This study examined the effect of mouth breathing on the strength and duration of vertical effect on the posterior teeth using related functional parameters during 3 min of gum chewing in 39 nasal breathers. A CO(2) sensor was placed over the mouth to detect expiratory airflow. When no airflow was detected from the mouth throughout the recording period, the subject was considered a nasal breather and enrolled in the study. Electromyographic (EMG) activity was recorded during 3 min of gum chewing. The protocol was repeated with the nostrils occluded. The strength of the vertical effect was obtained as integrated masseter muscle EMG activity, and the duration of vertical effect was also obtained as chewing stroke count, chewing cycle variation and EMG activity duration above baseline. Baseline activity was obtained from the isotonic EMG activity during jaw movement at 1.6 Hz without making tooth contact. The duration represented the percentage of the active period above baseline relative to the 3-min chewing period. Paired t-test and repeated analysis of variance were used to compare variables between nasal and mouth breathing. The integrated EMG activity and the duration of EMG activity above baseline, chewing stroke count and chewing cycle significantly decreased during mouth breathing compared with nasal breathing (P<0.05). Chewing cycle variance during mouth breathing was significantly greater than nasal breathing (P<0.05). Mouth breathing reduces the vertical effect on the posterior teeth, which can affect the vertical position of posterior teeth negatively, leading to malocclusion.
© 2012 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.