Janice Eadie is a pediatric dental hygienist on a mission: prevent and treat mouth breathing in children. She will speak at the webathon commemorating Global Airway Health Day on Oct. 2.

The Toronto, Canada-based dental professional is currently working on an online educational course for parents to help their little ones inhale the air they need the proper way–through their noses.

That course will add to Eadie’s 14 years of experience under her belt helping make pearly whites a trait that runs in the families she treats. “Mouth breathing means a high risk for cavities,” says Eadie, who is also social media influencer thanks to YouTube videos on health and others subject. “That can be frustrating for parents as their mouth-breathing kids who do their dental hygiene can still get cavities.”

But beautiful, healthy teeth are not the only concern of this dental worker. “Always breathing with our mouth open, without our tongue and lips in the proper position, our face can develop in a way that is not as healthy or attractive,” she says.

That is because breathing through the mouth affects what dental workers call a “correct oral posture,” which Eadie likens to sitting up straight in a chair with shoulders back and down. “Our tongue and lips need good posture, too,” she declares.

She explains that children’s oral posture determines the direction and growth of their face and jaw. “Most people don’t realize how malleable the bones of the face are, especially when we are young,” she says.

She also warns that mouth breathing can also lead issues beyond physical health.
Children’s behavior and emotional well-being can also be casualties of unhealthy mouth breathing, according to Eadie.

“It is not uncommon for children who mouth breath to be diagnosed with ADHD, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, as they share very similar symptoms,” she says. Often, she sees a lot of hyperactive children in the waiting room of her dental office. “I can tell if kids are mouth breathers by looking at their behavior,” states Eadie and adds, “ADHD can usually mean something like fixing their teeth and changing and improving their breathing.”

Children who breathe through their mouths through the night don’t get enough oxygen to their brains and “can become really restless during the day,” explains Eadir. “They seem to become hyperactive, which can be mistaken for ADHD.”

Professionals like Eadie are now at the forefront of detecting airway health issues for a very simple reason. “Dental professionals often spend the most time in your mouth out of all the health care providers so we often catch things that otherwise might be overlooked,” she says. “I believe one of the most important things we should look out for in children is to ensure they are not mouth breathing and have correct oral posture.”