How an Improper Bite Can Affect Your Breathing

Breathing disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), difficulty breathing through your nose, and habitual mouth breathing are common complaints that can cause varying degrees of frustration. Each can also hurt your overall health. But what do your teeth have to do with breathing?

The board-certified surgeons at Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery Associates of Nevada, with offices in Summerlin and East Side Las Vegas, Nevada, are also top-rated dentists. When it comes to your oral health care needs, these specialists are known for their expertise in treating and preventing a wide variety of dental issues.

Read what these Harvard-trained MDs have to say about tooth alignment and how it can affect the way you breathe.

Understanding tooth alignment

In dental speak, “bite” refers to how your teeth line up in your jaw. Ideally, teeth are evenly spaced, and the teeth of your upper jaw slightly overlap the teeth in your lower jaw. This allows the pointed ridges of your upper molars to align with the grooves of your lower molars as you chew.

More formally identified as occlusion, it’s no secret that proper tooth alignment provides a straight, cosmetically appealing smile.

Malocclusion, on the other hand, describes an improper bite that may include:

Along with its impact on your appearance, malocclusion can make it hard to clean your teeth, keep your gums healthy, and chew normally. It can also affect the way you breathe.

How an improper bite can affect breathing

Misaligned teeth and changes in your jaw structure often go together. This may alter the way your tongue rests in your lower jaw and otherwise interfere with the function of other structures at the back of your throat, such as your soft palate. Breathing can become difficult when these jaw and soft tissue irregularities obstruct airways. 

Obstructive sleep apnea, for instance, occurs when muscles in your tongue and throat overly relax during sleep and block airways. This leads to the pauses in breathing that characterize OSA. Malocclusion is often related to the positioning of your lower jaw and can cause your tongue to recede toward the back of your mouth, which is a contributing factor in OSA.  

Also, because your sinuses, airways, etc. are so closely linked to your mouth, malocclusion can make it difficult to breathe through your nose and lead to habitual mouth breathing. Persistently breathing through the mouth rather than the nose is often a symptom of an improper bite.

Treating breathing difficulties related to an improper bite

At Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery Associates of Nevada, the services we offer for an improper bite depend upon the type and severity of the malocclusion as well as your symptoms. We may, for instance, recommend tooth extraction, orthodontics to relieve overcrowding and cosmetic repair of malformed teeth.

For OSA, your treatment may include a mandibular repositioning device (MRD) that fits comfortably in your mouth at night and helps prevent your airways from becoming obstructed during sleep.

Our surgeons can also perform procedures to reposition or remove excess tissue in your throat and soft palate that may be blocking your airways. We also specialize in orthognathic surgery designed to improve the function and appearance of your jaw.  

If you’re experiencing problems with an improper bite, we can help. Schedule an evaluation at Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery Associates of Nevada today. 

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