Mouth Breathing

Though mouth breathing happens for different reasons in adults and children, the culprit is usually a nasal obstruction. When we breathe normally through the nose, the air we take in is warmed and moistened before it gets to our lungs. If a person has difficulty breathing through the nose, however, he or she is forced to take in cold, dry air through the mouth.

  • Main reason is nasal obstruction
  • If the lips are not creating a proper seal- short upper lip, this will automatically make the child breathe through mouth
  • Some children will continue to breathe through mouth even though the obstruction is removed in the nose
  • Allergic rhinitis
  • Enlarged tonsils
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Genetics
  • Dry mouth
    • Dry mouth is a condition where the mouth feels ‘dry’ and there does not seem to be enough saliva. Saliva is important for the health and well-being of mouth – without this, speaking and eating becomes difficult, the mouth does not feel fresh and may have an unpleasant odour.
  • Tooth decay
    • This dry mouth can lead to an increased risk of dental caries (tooth decay). Again saliva is the most essential substance which will help in clearance of food and it also contains components which will prevents the caries. As this is deficient in these patients caries can occur.
  • Gum infection
    • We can also see infection in gums, especially in the upper front teeth region, which is also because of dryness caused by a reduction in saliva.
  • Improper teeth arrangement
    • Teeth arrangement will also get affected in those patients with severe mouth breathing. Especially when the front teeth arrangement is affected it will make child look ugly.
  • Face
    • These patients will have a long, narrow face with a narrow nose
  • Speech
    • These children will face problems with their speech. They will have nasal tone in their speech
  • Others
    • As discussed before, when the air is inhaled through the mouth instead of the nose, the purification of the inhaled air is compromised. There are some glands present in the nose which are absent in mouth. This can lead to Oesophagitis (infection of Oesophagus)

The answer is definitely yes, you have to consult your dentist. But along with the dentist, it is more feasible that you should also consult an ENT specialist for the nasal obstruction. It is always better to correct the medical problems before correcting the mouth breathing habit. The dentist may prescribe treatment for dry mouth like sugar free gums or may ask you to apply glycerin on the lips. And there are some appliances like mouth guard, arch expansion appliances etc which will be explained by your dentist. Also your dentist might ask you to perform exercises like physical exercises, lip exercises etc. It’s not just taking the treatment, but you should undergo regular checkups and the appliances should be worn regularly, as advised by your dentist. The success of the treatment depends mainly on how regular you are.

Last updated on 23 November, 2018.

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