Mouth Breathing May Lead to Medical, Other Problems

Article encourages awareness among health care professionals for early diagnosis, action

THURSDAY, April 15 (HealthDay News) -- Health care professionals may be unaware of the physical, medical and social problems associated with mouth breathing, but it is important for the entire health care community -- including dentists -- to screen for and diagnose the condition to prevent these problems, according to an article in the January/February issue of General Dentistry.

Yosh Jefferson, D.M.D., of a private dental practice in Mount Holly, N.J., writes that children with untreated mouth breathing may develop long, narrow faces and/or narrow mouths, high palatal vaults, dental malocclusion, gummy smiles, and other facial features such as skeletal Class II or Class III facial profiles.

Jefferson adds that many children with the condition do not sleep well at night, which adversely affects growth and academic performance. In addition, he writes that mouth breathing may lead to medical issues such as high blood pressure, heart problems and sleep apnea, further cautioning that the condition may be misdiagnosed in children as attention deficit disorder and hyperactivity.

"It is important for the entire health care community (including general and pediatric dentists) to screen and diagnose for mouth breathing in adults and in children as young as 5 years of age," the author writes. "If mouth breathing is treated early, its negative effect on facial and dental development and the medical and social problems associated with it can be reduced or averted."

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