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Mouth Breathing and Nasal Cavity Development

January 25, 2023

In her latest lecture clip, Dr. Rebecca Bockow presents brand new information pointing to a correlation between early mouth breathing habits and underdeveloped nasal passages.

Dr. Rebecca Bockow is a dual-trained board-certified orthodontist and periodontist – one of only a handful in the country. She lectures nationally on periodontics, orthodontics, interdisciplinary orthodontics, airway, and skeletal growth and development.

“This really interesting paper I'm going to share with you guys today is new information. So, notice here, this is 2021, we're going to be... the things that were talking about today, this is new. We didn't know to look at this historically.

“So, twenty-one subjects, with a mean age of eight and a half, they (in the study) compared mouth breathers and nose breathers (they were mouth breathers secondary to allergic rhinitis). The mouth breathers had a smaller palatal surface and palatal volume.

“The conclusion - prolonged mouth-breathing alters the development of the palate leading to a narrow and high-vaulted palate. This image is striking. Think back to that young man we just saw those pictures of. Mouth breathing leads to a narrow, underdeveloped pallet. It's unbelievable; now, this is age eight-and-a-half. Eight and a half!

“At eight-and-a-half, these changes are already happening. So the tongue will influence skeletal growth in the transverse as well as the anterior/posterior dimensions. So, if we think about the maxilla, it's a series of bony plates that meet at sutures. If we highlight these sutures and we start to think three-dimensionally... my team teases me all the time, I say it probably ten times a day or more, but the roof of the mouth is the floor of the nose, and I might say it a few times here with you guys this morning.

“The roof of the mouth is the floor of the nose, and so when we have an underdeveloped palate, not only do we see things like crowding, but chances are we have underdeveloped nasal passages as well, and so it becomes cyclic. These issues all travel together. So, thinking about that tongue filling the oral cavity during those early formative years starts to grow and shape not just the palate but the nasal passages.”

Dr. Bockow loves to create beautiful smiles for her patients, setting them up for a lifetime of dental and airway health.

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