Most people are simply not aware of the problems that can be created because of the inability to breathe through the nose. In one specific situation, it caused a young lady’s teeth mesh together incorrectly, resulting in what dentists refer to as a collapsed bite. While she still has all her natural teeth, mouth breathing affected the development of her upper jaw. Her upper jaw was narrowed which trapped the lower jaw, forcing it back toward the joint. So much so, her lower front teeth were actually cutting into the roof of her mouth.
The first photo demonstrates her normal profile when she bites down. You can see the chin is too close to the nose, which creates a closed bite appearance. She is wearing an orthotic (a plastic appliance) in the second photo, which brings her jaw forward and down. Her face is now proportional. By that I mean, if you divide the face into thirds (bottom of chin to bottom of nose, bottom of nose to its base, base of the nose to top of the forehead) and if they are all equal, you’ll have a balanced appearance.
If you look at the second photo, the lips are full and the lower lip doesn’t stick out. Nothing more was done than inserting a plastic appliance. When the orthotic is removed and she bites down, everything collapses back to its original position.
When the jaws don’t mesh and come together properly, there are additional serious conditions that can take place. In a case like this, the trapped jaw is forced back too far into the joint. This patient was experiencing relentless headaches, fluid in her ears, vertigo and severe pain at the base of her neck. She was visiting a chiropractor and other medical advisors, never once thinking the pain was dental related. While she never got any concrete answers, she was told she’d have to learn to live with the pain and dizziness and was prescribed pain medication for temporary relief.
Now? The patient’s symptoms have all gone away. And why? Well, the orthotic allowed the jaw to sit where it was supposed to, allowing the stressed muscles to relax and resulting in the pain being eliminated. Her ear symptoms cleared up because the joint was no longer being forced back into the ear area.
Obviously not all headaches and other aches and pains are caused by, what dentists refer to as TMD (Temporomandibular Dysfunction) however, the mouth is intricately involved in how the temple, sinuses, ear, jaw, joint and neck feel. Every dentist will have their own way of treating TMD. Some cases are quite obvious and relatively simple to treat but others are complex, requiring different approaches. If you’re experiencing pain in the neck, head or ears, it’s a good idea to inform your dentist.