Children at risk for facial deformities, poor grades, dentists say
FRIDAY, April 23 (HealthDay News) -- Breathing through the mouth instead of the nose can lead to more than just dry tongues and palates.
Chronic mouth breathers, most often children with allergies, have problems getting enough oxygen into their blood, which affects their size, weight, sleep and even school performance, a recent study finds.
"Mouth breathing is a medical problem that touches almost every family. It's an unrecognized epidemic that needs immediate attention," said study author Dr. Yosh Jefferson, a general dentist in Mount Holly, N.J., who has been treating orthodontia patients for more than 20 years.
"A lot of doctors will say that if you wait, it will just go away," said Jefferson, who teaches and lectures on mouth breathing to spread the word, adding "it won't just go away."
Mouth breathing is caused by nasal obstructions, often the result of chronic infections and allergies. Consequences of untreated mouth breathing include unattractive facial and dental development, such as long face syndrome, narrow mouths and receding or protruding jaws.
Published in a recent issue of the journal General Dentistry, the study notes that mouth breathing is also associated with sleep apnea, a serious sleep disorder.
"They are suffocating and literally dying a slow death that robs them of their appearance, health, longevity and quality of life. Mouth breathing is very treatable, but to do this it must be diagnosed and treated as early as possible," Jefferson said.
Allergy medications aren't an effective treatment over the long run, because of undesirable side effects, said Jefferson. Mouth breathing is often corrected when tonsils and adenoids are removed, but this procedure isn't done as routinely as it once was.
Mouth breathers who develop facial deformities need to wear corrective dent
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