Nose breathing problems and orthodontics
Nose breathing problems and orthodontic treatment have a contraversial relationship spanning several decades. If you cannot breath well through your nose you can only mouth breath. Mouth breathing requires the separation of the teeth and the forward posturing of the tongue with the mouth open.
Common effects of mouth breathing
Many have argued that mouth breathing, changes the growth direction of the lower face to a downwards direction. This increases the distance from the nose to the chin. When the mouth is open, all the teeth will attempt to recreate the bite by erupting but because of the jaw geometry the front teeth have furthest to go before contact is made. The front teeth eventually run out of growth potential to overcome the increasing length of the lower face. The open bite is maintained by a permanently protruded tongue. The typical appearance is a vertical gap between the front teeth.
Medical Treatment for nasal blockage
If you think your child is having nasal breathing difficulties check whether they ever sleep with their mouth closed – if they do its unlikely the nose is seriously blocked. Your doctor or ENT specialist is the most important person to diagnose your nasal obstruction.
Nasal blockage is commonly caused by allergies causing the skin lining of the nose to swell up and a nasal spray may help. Adenoids and tonsils are airway immune tissues which can swell and cause blockage and the bones at the base of the nose (turbinate bones) can be too large.
Surgical reduction of the turbinates and removal of adenoids and tonsils is usually the cure in early childhood. Deviated nasal septum cannot be fixed until the nose has finished growth at the end of the teenage. There may be other less common reasons for nose blockage to exclude with your doctor.
Orthodontic treatment to improve nasal airway
Orthodontic treatment to assist nasal breathing is based on orthopaedic expansion of the maxilla where a narrow nasal airway does not respond to any of the medical procedures mentioned above. Maxillary expansion is also used in orthodontics to correct dental crossbites of the back teeth or provide a broader base for the upper aesthetic dental alignment. The additional space from maxillary expansion is often used to align teeth without the need for dental extractions. The earlier that maxillary expansion is done the more successful it is. As the age increases more robust and invasive devices become neccesary because the jaw bones become stronger until it is impossible to expand without additional surgery by the mid 20s.