Breathing is something we do automatically to stay alive and what most of us do not think twice. It’s perfectly natural to breathe through the mouth of terms such as running or lifting heavy objects, however, if mouth breathing is normal, then it can lead to many health problems. These problems can be particularly severe for children as mouth breathing may affect the long-term development of the face and jaw.
So why breathing through the mouth?
Normal breathing is when breathing through the nose and mouth closed. The most obvious reason for someone to be a mouth breather is you can not get enough air through the nose. The most common reasons for blocking the nostrils are:
Allergies – that can cause polyps or inflammation of the nasal mucosa
Enlarged tonsils or adenoids
The deviated nasal septum
Respiratory infections – colds and flu
Signs that may indicate breathing problems or nasal obstruction are:
Snoring, sleep apnea
Frequent infections of the upper respiratory tract
Survey “locked” during the day / night
Dark circles under the eyes
Effects on the teeth, jaw and posture
As mentioned above, mouth breathing can lead to many health problems, especially problems of dental health. When we breathe through the mouth, no loss of saliva and dry mouth and this may increase the risk of tooth decay and gum inflammation.
In addition, mouth breathing can cause alterations in the growth of the jaw and face. The normal resting position of the tongue against the roof of the mouth to compensate for the forces of the cheeks, but when a person breathes through the mouth, loose tongue. This leads to a narrowing of the upper jaw and lower jaw length, resulting in a long, narrow face, commonly known as “long face syndrome.” Due to the reduction of the jaw, teeth overlapping bite problems and malocclusion can be seen.
The head position adjustment is another effect that can result. Chronic mouth breathers tend to tilt the head back and tilt your head toward your shoulder to keep the airway open. This allows them to breathe more easily, but can lead to long-term problems of the neck and back.
Treatment for mouth breathing depends on the underlying cause. This requires a multidisciplinary approach that can be your dentist, general practitioner, ear, nose and throat (ENT), and sleep physician involved to determine the necessary treatment. Treatment may include prescription drugs, surgery and therapy, myofunctional and breathing exercises.
Airway obstruction is a common cause of mouth breathing and sometimes a full evaluation by an audiologist is needed to decide the treatment of obstruction. Often, medications can be prescribed to increase nasal airflow and reduce barriers, such as inflammation of the nasal mucosa and polyps. For more complex blocks, such as the tonsils or adenoids, surgery may be necessary to remove them.
Sometimes, even after removal of airway obstruction, mouth breathing is always present because it has become a habit. If so, myofuntional with breathing and muscle exercises therapy can help establish nasal breathing. Exercises that strengthen the facial muscles, as well as specific devices promote nasal breathing by mouth and can not support growth and development of the face. This is essential for children because they are still in growth phase.
Your dentist can help
Mouth breathing is a serious problem that can affect your overall health and dental care. Our role as a physician is to identify and treat mouth breathing at first, especially in children, and to refer to specialists if necessary. The sooner we address this condition, most likely, you can reverse the effects. This means a healthier life, a more natural and beautiful and healthy smile.