April 08, 2010

Mouth Breathing Can Cause Major Health Problems

Everyone knows somebody who mouth-breathes due to nasal obstruction... What many may not realize is that chronic mouth-breathing can lead to health problems whether in an adult or child.

Especially in children, over time, whose mouth breathing goes untreated may suffer from abnormal facial and dental development, such as long, narrow faces and mouths, gummy smiles, gingivitis and crooked teeth. The poor sleeping habits that result from mouth breathing can adversely affect growth and academic performance. Many of these children are misdiagnosed with attention deficit disorder (ADD) and hyperactivity. In addition, mouth breathing can cause poor oxygen concentration in the bloodstream, which can cause high blood pressure, heart problems, sleep apnea and other medical issues.

A 2015 paper also reported that mouth-breathing leads to acidification of the secretions within the mouth which may lead to dental erosions and cavities. Without mouth-breathing, the intra-oral pH was a neutral 7, but with mouth-breathing, the intra-oral pH dropped down to a 6.6.

What can cause nasal obstruction leading to mouth-breathing?

Turbinate Hypertrophy
Adenoid Hypertrophy
Nasal Polyps
Deviated Septum

Read more about nasal obstruction here.

Intraoral pH and temperature during sleep with and without mouth breathing. J Oral Rehabil. 2015 Dec 15. doi: 10.1111/joor.12372. [Epub ahead of print]

Mouth breathing: adverse effects on facial growth, health, academics, and behavior. General dentistry 58:1 pg 18-25; quiz 26-7, 79-80
Fauquier blog
Fauquier ENT

Dr. Christopher Chang is a private practice otolaryngology, head & neck surgeon specializing in the treatment of problems related to the ear, nose, and throat. Located in Warrenton, VA about 45 minutes west of Washington DC, he also provides inhalant allergy testing/treatment, hearing tests, and dispenses hearing aids.

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