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I attended two conferences in September this year and was thrilled to see exactly how much in-depth and ground-breaking myofunctional therapy research is being conducted at the moment.

Myofunctional therapists, dentists, doctors, and researchers all over the world are finding new ways to quantify, diagnose, and treat oral myofunctional disorders and airway-related issues such as obstructive sleep apnea. This is great news for patients and therapists alike, and it builds on the amazing body of research that’s already been done.

In this ongoing series of articles, I’ll showcase some of the myofunctional therapy research, both recent and not so recent, that’s taking the field to the forefront of airway health.

myofunctional therapy research on mouth breathing

Myofunctional Therapy Research On Mouth Breathing

1. This study from Brazil is titled The mouth breathing syndrome: prevalence, causes, consequences and treatment. It looked at what the researchers call “Mouth Breathing Syndrome”, which is characterized by a chronic pattern of mouth breathing or mixed breathing caused by nasal obstruction or inflammatory factors. The study surmises that mouth breathing may be present in up to half of school-age children, which is a frightening number.

2. This study was also conducted in Brazil (where a lot of myofunctional therapy research has been done over the years). It’s titled Three-dimensional assessment of pharyngeal airway in nasal-and mouth-breathing children.

As the name of the study implies, the researchers used high-quality 3D imaging to assess the airway dimensions of 50 children with an average age of nine. Their conclusion? “The CBCT evaluation showed that pharyngeal airway dimensions were significantly greater in nasal-breathers than in mouth-breathers.”

That’s a very big deal indeed given that a narrow airway is an indicator of a number of possible health problems including obstructive sleep apnea and ADHD symptoms in children.

3. Another Brazilian study titled Prevalence of malocclusion among mouth breathing children: Do expectations meet reality? found that “The prevalence of posterior crossbite is higher in mouth breathing children than in the general population. During mixed and permanent dentitions, anterior open bite and class II malocclusion were more likely to be present in mouth breathers.”

Myofunctional therapists know that a mouth breathing habit or an open mouth resting posture is likely to lead to compromised craniofacial development where the upper or lower jaw (or both) don’t grow as wide or as far forwards as they should. This can lead to malocclusion (Misalignment or incorrect relation between the teeth of the two dental arches).

4. This study titled Association between halitosis and mouth breathing in children found that in children aged between 3 and 14, “…the occurrence of halitosis was high among the children evaluated, and there was a statistically significant association between halitosis and mouth breathing.”

As I’ve pointed out before on this site, mouth breathing is connected to bad breath, especially when it happens at night. But bad breath is only part of the oral and dental problems that can be caused by a mouth breathing habit. Dental caries and gum disease can also occur as the mouth gets dry and the delicate balance of our oral microbiome (our oral bacteria) is affected.

5. Mouth breathing can even impact posture (see this article for more information). This is because an open mouth is correlated with a low resting tongue and potential airway issues, both of which can cause postural changes. This study was titled Assessment of the body posture of mouth-breathing children and adolescents. It looked at the body posture of over 400 children and found that “Postural problems were significantly more common among children in the group with mouth breathing syndrome, highlighting the need for early interdisciplinary treatment of this syndrome.”

It’s clear from research like this, along with extensive practical evidence from thousands of therapists and doctors that mouth breathing is a dysfunctional breathing pattern with a wide range of potential negative health effects.

Fortunately, myofunctional Therapy addresses and treats the underlying causes of mouth breathing. In fact, my Four Goals of Myofunctional Therapy involve closing the mouth, maintaining lip seal, and restoring nasal breathing. Making the switch from mouth breathing to nasal breathing is one of the most powerful changes anyone can make to their health!

 
 

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