January 24, 2019

Breathing and orthodontics

Over the past few weeks, there has been a lot of discussion on the association between orthodontics and breathing.  The AAO is also holding a conference on this interesting area. I thought that I should repost a series that I did on this back in 2016.

I am planning to do an update on this over the next few weeks. But, if you have not read this before, or you want to revisit it, just click on the links to the posts below. There are both excellent and strange comments made on the original posts.

Breathe, breathe in the air: Don’t be afraid to care. A blog series on Sleep-disordered breathing and orthodontic treatment: Part 1.

This was the first of a series in which I addressed the role of breathing in the aetiology of malocclusion and whether there is a role for orthodontic treatment to help reduce childhood sleep-disordered breathing (SDB).

Does mode of breathing influence facial growth?

This was the second of the series, It was about the influence of breathing on facial growth. Many claims are made about this subject, but how closely have we looked at the evidence?

Breathe, breathe in the air: Part 3 Does orthodontic treatment cure childhood breathing problems?

This was the third and final part and orthodontics and was about the effects of orthodontic treatment.

I hope that you find these useful.



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Have your say!

  1. Dear Prof. O’Brien;
    Thank you for bringing this to topic to our attention again. I read the articles two years ago and again today. Your blog makes the life of private practice orthodontists that little bit easier and a lot more interesting. I am not an accademic but I do like to keep in touch. I was recently invited to Modena to give a lecture on ‘anglo-saxon’ interceptive orthodontics (only because I speak Italian not because I’m any form of kol) and I always find it fascinating how the world of orthodontics changes depending on the country you practice in and (more significantly in my view) the way in which orthodontists are remunerated (a whole different topic altogether). All in all I can’t say that I advocate this treatment routinely in my practice although it seems to be huge in northern, but I eagerly await trials (high quality ones) to convince me. In the mean time I do some elective expansion treatment early if the palate seems visibly constricted but with timid hopes for any significant outcomes. Sometimes it s worth the shot !

    Jan (Malta)

  2. Breathing directly affects your facial growth. However, many people might suffer from breathing related issues since childhood. Your posts will give a clear discussion on such topics and possible treatments related to the same.

  3. Dear Doctor,

    I know this post is from a while ago, but I jsut recentl came across it. I was wondering, what is your opinion regarding the article of 1975 in monkeys from McNamara. I do think that if there is a breathing disorder, the maxilla will have a hypodevelopment. Perhabs the mandible is not alteres, but if you run the numbers, a blockage in the high airways and a nose that doesnt breathe would originate breathing through the mouth which would cause a low positioning tongue. A constantly opened mouth would open the goniac angle causing a more vertical growth and in conclusion the effective lenght of the mandible would be higher than normal which, translated to a cephalometry, this would mean a masked class III. So maybe and only maybe there is a form-function relationshio but I do agree that the search is still to weak to say it’s a fact. I would like to hear your opinion regarding this.

    Best regards,

  4. Great writing! In your three series, you have described everything about how breathing and orthodontics relates to each other and what treatment should be required. Thanks! https://www.watertowndentalcare.com/orthodontics_dentist_watertown_sd.html

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