Mouth Breathing

Orthodontics and Mouth Breathing

Mouth breathing is the term used when there is more breathing through the mouth than through the nose. Mouth breathing may be a short term (such as during a cold) or a chronic, long term problem. Things that contribute to mouth breathing include large tonsils or adenoids, nasal allergies, deviated nasal septum, rhinitis (swollen nasal tissue) and difficulty keeping the lips together at rest.

Effects of Mouth breathing

The immediate adverse effect of mouth breathing is drying of the teeth and gums, which can produce any or all of the following:

  • plaque on the teeth becomes dry and sticky (making it difficult to brush off)

  • gum tissue that is exposed to the air gets dried out and becomes swollen and red

  • saliva gets thicker

  • decay/cavity rate increases

  • the chance of decalcification (white chalky areas of enamel) increases


Chronic mouth breathing can cause further significant problems particularly in growing children and may cause the following:

  • a low and forward tongue posture and tongue thrust during swallowing which has a negative effect on dental and skeletal growth with opening of the bite at the front

  • lengthening of the face due to overeruption of the molar teeth

  • a high and narrow palate

  • weaker lip muscles


Chronic mouth breathers should:

  • check with the physician that there is no medical treatment available

  • practice keeping the lips together to increase lip strength

  • brush and floss thoroughly and frequently

  • try to keep the teeth and gums as moist as possible throughout the day by rinsing the mouth with water (carry a water bottle and take periodic sips)

  • keep regular dental visits for cleanings and checkups

  • cover the mouth if possible when in very cold conditions (e.g., running, skiing or snowboarding) as colder air causes more tissue irritation

Get In Touch

Contact Us

We encourage you to contact us with any questions or comments you may have. Please call our office or use the quick contact form below.

Office Location

  • Maple Ridge
  • 11950 223rd Street
  • Maple Ridge, British Columbia
  • V2X 5Y5
  • Map & Directions
  • Call: 604-467-2229