The effect of mouth breathing versus nasal breathing on dentofacial and craniofacial development in orthodontic patients

Laryngoscope. 2010 Oct;120(10):2089-93. doi: 10.1002/lary.20991.


Objectives/hypothesis: To determine the effect of mouth breathing during childhood on craniofacial and dentofacial development compared to nasal breathing in malocclusion patients treated in the orthodontic clinic.

Study design: Retrospective study in a tertiary medical center.

Methods: Clinical variables and cephalometric parameters of 116 pediatric patients who had undergone orthodontic treatment were reviewed. The study group included 55 pediatric patients who suffered from symptoms and signs of nasal obstruction, and the control group included 61 patients who were normal nasal breathers.

Results: Mouth breathers demonstrated considerable backward and downward rotation of the mandible, increased overjet, increase in the mandible plane angle, a higher palatal plane, and narrowing of both upper and lower arches at the level of canines and first molars compared to the nasal breathers group. The prevalence of a posterior cross bite was significantly more frequent in the mouth breathers group (49%) than nose breathers (26%), (P = .006). Abnormal lip-to-tongue anterior oral seal was significantly more frequent in the mouth breathers group (56%) than in the nose breathers group (30%) (P = .05).

Conclusions: Naso-respiratory obstruction with mouth breathing during critical growth periods in children has a higher tendency for clockwise rotation of the growing mandible, with a disproportionate increase in anterior lower vertical face height and decreased posterior facial height.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Cephalometry
  • Child
  • Dental Arch / growth & development*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Malocclusion / diagnostic imaging
  • Malocclusion / etiology*
  • Mandible / growth & development*
  • Maxillofacial Development*
  • Mouth Breathing*
  • Nasal Obstruction / complications*
  • Nose
  • Radiography
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Surveys and Questionnaires