Are You A Mouth Breather?

Most people have experienced mouth breathing at one time or another due to nasal congestion from either a bad cold, allergies or sinus congestion. However, when mouth breathing is ongoing, it is usually due to other reasons. It could be because the nasal airway is being partially blocked by either enlarged adenoids and/or tonsils in the absence of an acute or systemic health concern. While this kind of a habit may be considered to be merely annoying but harmless, this is far from the truth. Chronic mouth breathing can affect the proper skeletal development of the face, body and can ultimately cause dental problems.

Why catch a mouth breathing habit early?

Chronic mouth breathing in children often causes the development of an elongated (longer) face, cheekbones with less definition, and the development of narrower upper and lower arches. As a result, an improper bite and/or crowded teeth can develop. Over time, mouth breathing can also change how the tongue functions in the mouth. The tongue is one of the strongest muscles in our body and therefore has a tremendous influence on the surrounding tissues and bones. During normal nasal respiration, the mouth is closed and the tongue rests against the upper palate,thereby developing and expanding the upper and lower arches. In mouth breathers, the mouth is usually open to allow respiration, and the tongue no longer rests against the upper jaw. During mouth breathing, the tongue usually rests against the lower jaw and drops forward. This positioning of the tongue is the main contributing factor to the under development of the facial muscles and skeletal facial bones.

It is critical therefore, when correcting a bad bite in a mouth breather that the mouth breathing itself be addressed and corrected too. Consequently, ignoring the mouth-breathing problem will result in unsuccessful orthodontic treatment in the long term. Often, myofunctional are involved in retraining the muscles of the face and mouth to aid in nasal breathing. Chronic mouth breathing also has the potential to influence posture negatively and lead to postural skeletal changes. When the tongue is displaced in a forward position, the head will also tend to rest in a more forward position. – alsocausing the shoulders to slump.

Mouth breathing: responsible for gum disease, too?…

The effects of ongoing mouth breathing are also clearly visible on the gums. Most often, mouth breathers develop gingivitis around the upper front teeth. the affected gums usually appear red, swollen and shiny due to the constant exposure of air. the air coming in through the mouth leads to surface dehydration of the gums and acts as an irritant to the gum tissues. this habit is just capable of way too much dental destruction, isn’t it?!

Still breathing through your mouth? Cut it out!

Mouth breathing is a serious concern for dental health professionals. Often, the dental health practitioners will work with ENT specialists and myofunctional therapists and chiropractors to help correct mouth breathing. Although, not all health care professionals are aware of the long-term dental and skeletal problems that can be linked to mouth breathing. Dental hygienists in general, and especially those specifically trained in orthodontics play an important role in accessing mouth breathing, and in referring clients to other health care professionals that can treat the problem.

Please visit Pina Mazza at Maple Dental Hygiene Care for any concerns related to mouth breathing, especially in young children. She is here to help!


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