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Effects of Mouth Breathing on Facial & Dental Development

Mouth breathing – is it a problem?

Many people see mouth-breathing as something unsightly, distasteful, and even comical. Unfortunately, it’s a sign that a person’s breathing and swallowing aren’t working correctly, and it can lead to several short and long-term health issues. Beyond that, it can cause a person’s facial structures to develop incorrectly, eventually leading to severe cosmetic problems that affect confidence and quality of life.

What causes mouth breathing?

Mouth breathing prevents the tongue from resting in the correct position within a person’s mouth. That’s a serious issue because the tongue is a major muscle that, when correctly positioned, molds the jaw bones and plays a major role in ensuring that a person’s face grows correctly. Without a properly positioned tongue to guide facial development, teeth can become crowded, and there can be significant aesthetic and health issues later in life.

Typically, mouth breathing begins at a young age. It can be caused by the use of pacifiers and bottles, as well as habits like thumb or finger sucking. Allergies from food or the environment cause congestion at a young age too, further contributing to incorrect breathing patterns. Before long, what starts out as a cute infant habit quickly turns into a major health issue.

How can mouth breathing affect your health?

When a person breathes through their mouth, the air doesn’t receive the same natural filtering that it does when it enters through the nose. This allows bacteria, viruses and fungal organisms directly onto a person’s teeth, tongue, and tonsils, and it can eventually lead to an increased risk of gingivitis, periodontitis (gum disease), and even cavities.

Even more alarming is that breathed in bacteria and fungus can cover the tonsils, causing them to swell and obstruct a person’s airway. Over time, this can cause a condition called sleep apnea, which prevents the body’s organ systems from getting enough oxygen.

That might not sound like a big deal, but a regular lack of oxygen leads to major and chronic health conditions in adults – like cardiovascular disease, strokes, cancers, infertility, premature aging, and other serious conditions – and incorrect growth and behavioral issues in children.

Worried about mouth breathing? Talk to us!

Dr. Lawson and her team are trained in myofunctional therapy that corrects breathing, swallowing and tongue positioning, and they have years of experience fitting myofunctional, orthodontic and sleep appliances for both children and adults.

If you’d like to learn more about mouth breathing and your treatment options, get in touch with us – we’d be happy to sit down with you for a complimentary consultation and answer all your questions about mouth breathing and your oral health.

Do You Have An Uneven Smile?

Dr. Lawson and our team want to help you enjoy a more even and healthy smile. To learn more about our clear and esthetically-pleasing orthodontic solutions, schedule a consultation by:

calling our dentistry office in Urbandale, IA, at 515-278-4366.

We also serve residents of Waukee, Grimes, Johnston, and Clive, IA.

Book your next appointment with us

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We’ll get back to you with the answers!

  • Healthy Start Patient Form

  • Sleep Disordered Breathing Questionnaire for Children

    The initial column should be filled out at first appointment. Please identify the following symptoms your child exhibits with the scale indicating severity of symptoms.

    Not Present: 0
    Mild: 1-2
    Moderate: 3
    Pronounced: 4-5
  • Does your child:

  • (If yes, fill out speech questionnaire below)
  • Speech Questionnaire

    To be filled out only if #27 was indicated above
  • Please check all that apply to your child

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