What are abnormalities in mouth behaviour?

Included in abnormal mouth behaviour are habits which will lead to negative consequences for teeth, speech and hearing. This includes open-mouthed behaviour, habitual swallowing and sucking of thumbs.

Most people breathe through their nose, unless the nostrils are not sufficient enough, and there are various factors which narrow the nasal cavities. For instance allergies or flu, in which case the mouth is used more in breathing for a short time. If this habit of breathing through the mouth is kept even though the nasal cavities are clear, it means the nostrils are hardly used and could lead to muscles in the mouth weakening. This causes different consequences.

By breathing through the mouth it will dry it out, causing less need to swallow. This in turn will mean the Eustachian tube, which connects the nasal cavity with the ear, is not cleaned enough, increasing the chances of ear infection.

Breathing through the mouth also means that the tongue lies low down in the mouth, and is pushed between the teeth when swallowing. Through this continual habitual swallowing, it can cause the teeth to become out of place.

The tongue can get between the teeth while speaking as well as swallowing, causing a lisp; speech becomes unclear.

Habitual swallowing can also come about for those who normally breathe through their nose.
Other abnormal mouth behaviour is that of thumb sucking. Sucking on a thumb, finger of dummy is normal for a baby or infant because they still have a need for it or the safety is offers. Anytime after this it becomes a habit, and can cause the teeth to grow out of place.

What does the speech therapist do?

The speech therapist can advise you if and when treatment is necessary, and which type of treatment would be most effective.

Breathing through the mouth must be stopped as soon as possible with young children, as this can cause recurring flu and ear infections. Treatment will mainly focus on closing the lips. Exercises will be given to strengthen the muscles of the tongue and lips; and other exercises that involve breathing through the nose. Inadvertent swallowing does not have to be dealt with until after the change of front teeth has been sorted. It is sometimes preferable that thumb sucking is no longer accustomed before changing the front teeth, as this can have a negative effect on the development of the teeth.
The investigation and treatment abnormal mouth behaviour will, as a rule, be reimbursed by medical insurance, and almost every individual health insurance company, provided it has been recommended by a doctor or medical specialist.