Dentists typically see their patients 2 times per year for examinations. So if your dentist has had the extra training in sleep and airway disorders that allows them to recognize this, it is much more likely that they will diagnose it before your physician would. Mouth breathing can be seasonal with allergies or it can be chronic, persisting all the time. In either case, it is important to recognize mouth breathing and treat the cause.
Mouth breathing in children is fairly common, especially during sleep. Many parents think nothing of it, not realizing that untreated it will affect not only the development of the teeth but of the overall appearance of the face. You can recognize those who have suffered from this by their narrow faces, crooked teeth, and gummy smiles. Mouth breathing is one of the most common causes of crooked teeth and the need for orthodontics and Invisalign. It can also lead to ADHD and behavioral disorders in children if untreated. A dentist trained in airway disorders will screen all children during dental exams by evaluating their tonsils. If tonsils are enlarged it decreases the volume of the airway and can disrupt sleep. The associated mouth breathing means that the tongue is not spending the time that it is designed to in the roof of the mouth, because the mouth is open. The tongue normally rests in the roof of the mouth while nasal breathing and in growing children, it acts like a palatal expander. It exerts lateral force, widening the upper jaw and creating a large natural archform that allows plenty of room for the permanent teeth. It also lowers the palate which is also the floor of the nose. This increases the volume of the nasal airway and allows for easier nasal breathing. Treating mouth breathing children is critical for their oral and cranial development.
A child who is recognized to mouth breath should be referred for evaluation by an ENT. They typically will allergy test and if tonsils and adenoids are enlarged, they will remove them. This can have an incredible positive effect on growing children. They can breath better, sleep better and behavior improves. It will also positively affect the growth and development of their face and airway.
Adults can also suffer from mouth breathing too and it also needs to evaluated by a dentist trained in sleep dentisty. Since adults are not growing the treatment options would be very different, but might include ENT procedures, nose strips, or allergy treatments. They would also be treated for airway disorders such as sleep apnea. A sleep study would be prescribed if the screening was positive.
If you or your child is a mouth breather, it would be wise to have an examination by a dentist trained in airway disorders. If you seek a dentist in Victoria, TX to evaluate mouth breathing or sleep apnea, call 361-573-7722.