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Mouth Breathing and Malocclusion - Topic Overview

Mouth breathing is often caused by a partially blocked airway, usually because of an allergy or enlarged adenoids or tonsils. A doctor should evaluate these conditions. Frequent mouth breathing can cause dry, red, swollen gums. This can be especially noticeable around erupting baby and permanent teeth.

In children younger than 8, about half do some breathing through their mouths, presumably not due to a medical problem. Most children outgrow this habit by the age of 8.

Recommended Related to Oral Health

Bad Breath: Good and Bad Foods

Got bad breath? You may want to take a look at your diet. If your dental hygiene is great -- you brush your teeth twice a day, floss once a day, and clean your tongue -- your bad breath could be linked to your diet. Certain foods can taint your breath for hours and contribute to dragon breath in other ways. Here are some of the culprits: Garlic and onions. "Garlic and onions top the list when it comes to halitosis," says Lisa Harper Mallonee, MPH, RD, associate professor at Texas A&M...

Read the Bad Breath: Good and Bad Foods article > >

The relationship between ongoing (chronic) mouth breathing and malocclusion ("poor bite") is unclear, but the two are often seen together. The most common trait of people who chronically breathe through their mouths is an elongated (longer) lower face and a narrowed upper arch in the mouth (maxillary constriction). Cheek muscles pressing in on the upper side teeth cause these traits. Experts question whether mouth breathing is responsible for these skeletal and dental changes.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: January 02, 2013
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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    Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

    You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

    You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

    Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

    SOURCES:

    American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

    This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

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