It might be a surprising revelation that while we breathe through both our mouth and nose, it is always best when we take in oxygen through our nose. This is due to several factors, such as the hairs that line our nose defending us against pathogens, bacteria, and dirt. Our noses also warm the air entering our bodies.
Chronic mouth breathing can lead to tooth decay, gingivitis, abnormal facial growth, and halitosis (chronic bad breath). Here we’ll look at what chronic mouth breathing is and what it can cause if left untreated.
What Is Chronic Mouth Breathing
Chronic mouth breathing can occur in children for multiple reasons and can cause many facial and dental abnormalities. One common reason for chronic mouth breathing would be that your child may have developed a habit of mouth breathing due to allergies and blocked nasal cavities. Because of this, children may snore or have interruptions in their sleep, leading to sleep deprivation and poor concentration. Mouth breathing can also cause a host of facial and dental issues.
What Can It Cause?
- Tooth Decay and Gingivitis
Your mouth needs saliva. Therefore, when mouth breathing occurs for hours on end, it leads to dryness in your mouth, drying out your gums and the tissue lining your mouth. This means that the natural bacteria in your mouth will change, leading to gum disease and tooth decay. Saliva helps in remineralising damaged teeth; therefore, with no saliva, teeth will decay faster.
Stronger than usual bad breath, halitosis can’t be solved by mints or mouth wash and is often called chronic bad breath. This is due to a combination of having a dry mouth where bacteria can enter as there is no filter.
- Abnormal facial growth
Without nasal breathing, lip seal and proper tongue placement, there can be an imbalance in your child’s facial growth. This occurs when there is a lack of appropriate widening of the jaws due to the tongue’s low posture (not against the palate). One of the tongue’s functions is to guide the growth of the jaw. Therefore, this leads to smaller jaws, crowded/skew teeth and crossbites. Where there is overcrowding, decay can happen between the teeth.
Children that struggle to breathe through their nose tend to grind their teeth, usually when they are asleep. This is called nocturnal bruxism.
- Sleep disturbance
Chronic mouth breathing can lead to a dry mouth, snoring, and a level of sleep apnea which results in bad sleep quality. There is some speculation that this unrested state might contribute to ADHD in children.
How Can It Be Treated?
There are many ways chronic mouth breathing can be treated. If your child is suffering from allergies, it would be a good idea to see an ear, nose, and throat specialist. If it is a habit or a lip/ tongue function issue, then we have treatment protocols to get them on the right path.
Our dentists at Wiggly Teeth are focused on providing integrative dentistry. We view your child as a whole and investigate how every aspect of their being impacts everything else. Therefore, we do not just treat the outcome but aim to diagnose early and find a solution before an unfortunate outcome can occur. Give us a call if you are concerned about mouth breathing, or book your regular checkup today with a dentist who cares!