How an Improper Bite Can Affect Your Breathing

When it comes to breathing, we usually focus on our nose and lungs. But the symmetry and structure of your jaw play a critical role in the process, too.

At Oral & Facial Surgery of Mississippi, our board-certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon, Michael Nichols, DMD, MD, specializes in procedures designed to correct improper jaw alignment when traditional orthodontics fail. 

We share these insights into your jaw and how it affects your breathing.

Bite basics

In the dental world, your “bite” describes how your upper and lower teeth fit together, or occlusion. When properly aligned, your upper teeth should sit slightly over your lower teeth. This placement enables the points and grooves of your molars to fit together like a puzzle. 

When your bite alignment is off, you have a malocclusion. There are three different types of malocclusion, including:

Malocclusion may seem like a cosmetic issue, but it can lead to a variety of problems, ranging from increased tooth decay and gum diseases to problems chewing, speaking, and even breathing.

Your bite and your breathing

Your jaw is responsible for your ability to open your mouth. That means any action requiring your mouth, like speaking, eating, and breathing is directly affected by its shape, position, and function. And it doesn’t stop there. 

Your jaw is also an entry point to your airways, making them an interconnected system. When improperly positioned, your jaw reduces the size of your airway. This can lead to bad habits, like mouth breathing. 

Children with untreated mouth breathing can experience lifelong respiratory problems. It can also affect their facial development, a condition known as long-faced syndrome.

Mouth breathing and poor jaw alignment can also increase your chances of snoring and obstructive sleep apnea for both adults and children. With sleep apnea, your breathing starts and stops while you sleep.

Not getting enough oxygen and quality sleep can significantly affect your health and quality of life. Complications vary from daytime fatigue to cardiovascular problems. In fact, the more severe your obstructive sleep apnea, the higher your risk of serious complications like heart attack, heart failure, and stroke.

Restoring proper jaw alignment

Fortunately, we have several methods to correct an improper bite. In most cases, we can address alignment problems with orthodontics, tooth extraction, or tooth repair. 

Sometimes, we can even correct jaw alignment issues causing sleep apnea by having you wear an oral appliance while you sleep.

When these options fail, Dr. Nichols might recommend surgery to reshape, modify, or improve your jaw function. Jaw surgery offers numerous benefits, including:

There are several different jaw surgeries. Depending on your treatment, Dr. Nichols could recommend additional alignment therapies, like braces, as part of your treatment.

Are you curious to see if your bite is affecting your breathing? Contact our office in Flowood, Mississippi, by calling 601-282-9290 or requesting an appointment online today.

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Kids & Scarring

Dr. Nichols was recently interviewed for this article in Mississippi’s “Well Being” Magazine….check it out for some great insight into both the prevention and treatment of scarring in children…and adults too!