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Applecross Dentist Post: Mouth-breathing, Malocclusion and the Restoration of Nasal Breathing

Derek Mahony,Specialist Orthodontist and ClinicalAdvisor
BDS(Syd) MScOrth(Lon) DOrth RCS(Edin) MDOrthRCSP(Glas) MOrth RCS(Eng)

Roger Price Respiratory Exercise Physiologist and Program Developer
B.Sc. Pharm. (Rhodes) Dip. Pharmacol.(Col.) M.A.T.M.S.A.F.A.J.M.M.B.J.B.H

Most dentists and orthodontists are aware of the impact that mouth breathing has on the development of the maxilla. Most are also aware of the fact that even after successful realignment of teeth, unless a retainer is used, relapse usually occurs.

The tongue is nature’s retainer and at the lateral force exertion of 500Gm provides the balance required against the inward force pull of the cheek muscles, at also around 500Gm.

In an ideal world, these two forces would balance each other and normal maxillary development would take place. The primary teeth would erupt smoothly and evenly and even in the mixed dentition stage there should not be overcrowding or malalignment of teeth.

So what causes mouth breathing to occur and what can be done about it?

The answer to this lies in the basic physiology that we all studied during the early part of our careers. At the time we learned it we were not able to see its overall importance as we had yet to study the full gamut of anatomy and physiology to see how it all inter-related. By the time this happened we had forgotten most of it.

So it should not come as any surprise that the information that follows will certainly strike a chord and probably elicit the usual comment “But I knew that!”

In order to be able to understand what constitutes Dysfunctional Breathing it is necessary to know what Functional Breathing is. As there is a norm for blood pressure, pulse, temperature, chemical content of the blood etc. so is there a norm for breathing. Unfortunately this norm is not used by the general medical or dental