Some people’s mouth is a bit open when they relax their myofacial muscles, the ones that are used to clench the jaw. In a completely well aligned mouth, the top row of teeth rests gently on the bottom row when the mouth is closed and the face is relaxed. But the jaws can be aligned in many ways, and a whole slew of factors can cause the mouth to hang open when resting, exposing the teeth and gums, and causing all sorts of problems in the long run. This harmless little characteristic can thus be a big problem.
Causes of mouth breathing
Many times the causes of mouth breathing are not orthodontic in origin. A deviated septum or a blocked nasal passage, either from allergies or from a chronic illness, can all cause the mouth to hang open temporarily. But problems like the way the teeth are aligned, or the way that the jaws are in relation to each other are the most common, and these can be easily fixed with orthodontic treatment. If a child sucks his or her thumb as a baby, then the teeth will stick outwards, and this will cause the mouth to be open all of the time (and mouth breathing as well). This can be realigned with orthodontics. If the jaws are not properly aligned, this can be a more serious issue. Many times, the problem can be fixed with braces, but sometimes it can’t. In these cases, myofacial surgery may be needed to remedy the situation.
Effects of mouth breathing
One of the effects of mouth breating is that the mouth is constantly dry, leading to xerostomia, which means that the gums cannot properly function and are not well lubricated. The other is that the patient will have to be in constant pain and discomfort, from having to keep their jaws apart, or having to hold them in place in order to keep the mouth closed, and this can cause problems for the TMJ and jaw muscles. This problem can also affect sleeping, and can be tied up with sleep apnoea and other problems of this nature.
Although it may seem like a silly thing to worry about, a constantly slack jaw can be a sign of bigger problems, and can be cause to look into orthodontic treatment. If caught early on, the treatment will be easier, and it will occur before there are any more serious problems occurring.
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