It is normal for people to breathe through their nose. Nasal breathing warms and humidifies incoming air and filters contaminants. Mouth breathing, on the other hand, may seem like it is not a big deal because it is necessary when you have nasal congestion or are exercising. But it can be a significant concern when it comes to your oral health and even facial development in children.
Signs of Mouth Breathing
If you notice these symptoms in yourself or your child, make an appointment with your dentist to find out if mouth breathing is the cause and discuss solutions.
- Chronic bad breath
- Cracked lips
- Sinus and ear infections
- Frequent colds
- Dry mouth
- Swollen and red gums that bleed easily
- Teeth sensitivity
Causes of Mouth Breathing
Although mouth breathing can be habitual, it is typically caused by temporary blockages in the nasal passage. Some reasons for mouth breathing include:
- Nasal congestion due to allergies, cold, or sinus infection
- Deviated septum
- Enlarged tonsils or adenoids
- Small jaw
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Nasal polyps
- Stress and anxiety
When your dentist identifies the cause of your mouth breathing, they can work with you to develop a treatment plan for managing the condition.
Effects of Mouth Breathing On Your Dental Health
Your dentist is often the first to identify the signs and effects of chronic mouth breathing. The physical effects of frequent mouth breathing can take various forms.
Increased risk of dry mouth and tooth decay
Mouth breathing can significantly affect your saliva production. When you breathe through your nose, your sinuses add moisture to the air you inhale. So when you breathe through your mouth, you are at an elevated risk of experiencing dry mouth.
Dry mouth increases the acidity in your mouth, putting you at greater risk of developing tooth decay. People with dry mouth are more likely to develop tooth decay along the gum line due to a lack of saliva protecting the teeth from acids. The inner dentin layer of your tooth is not as resistant to acidity as your enamel.
Elevated chance of gum disease
Without saliva to wash away harmful mouth bacteria, you are more likely to experience gum disease. In its earliest stages, gingivitis is reversible under the supervision of your dentist and an effective at-home oral hygiene routine.
However, if gum disease is left untreated, it can advance to periodontitis which not only causes tooth loss but is also linked to health problems like diabetes, stroke, and respiratory issues.
Changes in facial development in children
Chronic mouth breathing occurs in 10-15% of young children. It can cause structural deformities like a longer and narrower face (known as long-face syndrome), a flatter nose, weak cheek muscles, and a high palate.
Poor facial development due to mouth breathing can also cause malocclusions like an open bite and crossbite and overcrowded and impacted teeth.
Pediatric mouth breathers may also exhibit swallow abnormalities and speech deficits. A 2014 study found that convex facial tissue and a higher degree of lip separation were more prominent in children who were chronic mouth breathers.
Put Your Oral Health First
If you have symptoms that indicate you’re frequently mouth breathing, it’s a good idea to book an appointment with your dentist to find out what’s causing it. Long-term mouth breathing can have adverse effects on your oral health.
Contact Blue Island Smiles today to learn how we can help. We put our patients’ health and comfort first, so you can expect a warm welcome and attentive treatment from the moment you walk into our practice.