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.

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

Related Information


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Adam Husney, MD – Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer William F. Hohlt, DDS – Orthodontics

Current as ofMay 7, 2017