Has Your Dentist Ever Asked If You Are A Mouth Breather?


It’s a great question in my opinion because mouth breathing can have a lot of relevance for the state of your oral health.

Breathing, one of the most crucial functions of the human body along with how we breathe can have a positive or negative impact on our bodies.

Normal breathing is regarded as breathing through the nose with the abdomen gently expanding and contracting with each inhalation and exhalation. No effort is required with breathing silent and consistent.

Abnormal breathing i.e. mouth breathing is often quicker than normal, audible, with sighing and visible movements of the upper chest in evidence.

You might associate this with stress but habitual bad breathers (mouth breathers) do this all the time regardless.

In children, the harmful effects of mouth breathing are far greater, since it is during these formative years that breathing mode helps to shape the orofacial structures and airways. A mouth breather carries the tongue in a low downward position, creating an airspace which allows the person to breathe more freely; and as a result it can lead to abnormal tongue activity. This abnormal tongue activity can exert an excessive force upon the dentition during swallowing, contributing to malocclusions in children and leading to periodontal disease and atypical myofascial pain in adulthood. This can also lead to increased tooth mobility and advancing periodontal disease.

In addition to abnormal swallowing patterns and facial characteristics, postural problems may also be present in those who habitually breathe through their mouth. Mouth breathers tend to assume a characteristic posture, carrying their heads forward in order to compensate for the restriction to their airways and make breathing possible. This forward head posture often leads to amongst other symptoms, neck pain, tension headaches and dental occlusal problems.

In my opinion and research suggests that it is essential for medical and dental professionals to assess mouth breathing in children and adult patients. When treated early, its negative effects on facial and dental development, along with the associated medical and social problems can be reduced or averted.

Dr Matt Lawler

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