Mouth breathing leads to a host of health problems that may often go unrecognised, as most health care professionals may not know of the physical, medical and social problems connected with this habit.
As people are very regular in their dental check ups, it is likely that the dentists may be the first to identify the symptoms of mouth breathing, and can help prevent the adverse effects.
Advertisement"Allergies can cause upper airway obstruction, or mouth breathing, in patients. Almost every family has someone with mouth breathing problems," said Yosh Jefferson, author of the study.
Over time, children 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," said Jefferson.
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.
"Children who mouth breathe typically do not sleep well, causing them to be tired during the day and possibly unable to concentrate on academics. If the child becomes frustrated in school, he or she may exhibit behavioral problems," said Jefferson.
Treatment for mouth breathing is available and can be beneficial for children if the condition is caught early.
A dentist can check for mouth breathing symptoms and swollen tonsils. If tonsils and/or adenoids are swollen, they can be surgically removed via an ear-nose-throat (ENT) specialist.
If the face and mouth are narrow, dentists can use expansion appliances to help widen the sinuses and open nasal airway passages.
The study has been published in the latest issue of General Dentistry.