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Straight Teeth Talk: Mouth breathing causes serious dental problems

Nov. 1, 2011 at 6:01 a.m.

Bad profile.

By Mac Lee

The inability to breathe through the nose can create problems most people are not aware of. In one young lady's situation, it caused her teeth to not fit right, resulting in what dentists call a collapsed bite.

She has all of her natural teeth, but because of breathing through her mouth, the upper jaw did not develop correctly. This non-development narrowed the upper jaw, which trapped the lower jaw, pushing it back toward the joint. Her lower front teeth actually were cutting into the roof of her mouth.

The first photo on Page E4 shows her normal profile when she bites down. You can see that the chin is too close to the nose creating a closed bite appearance. In the second photo, she is wearing an orthotic, which is a plastic appliance that brings her jaw forward and down.

Her face is now proportional. If you divided the face into thirds, i.e. bottom of chin to bottom of the nose, the bottom of the nose to its base, and from the base of the nose to the top of the forehead, and they are equal, you will have a balanced appearance.

Also notice in the second photo, the lips are full instead of thin and that her lower lip does not stick out. This effect could be considered facelift dentistry without surgery because nothing was done other than putting the appliance in. When she takes it out and bites down, everything collapses back to its original position.

When the jaws don't fit properly, other serious conditions can also occur. In cases like this, the trapped jaw is pushed too far back into the joint. In her own words, she complained of constant headaches, fluid in her ears, vertigo and pain at the base of her neck. Not ever thinking it could be her teeth, she understandably sought help from chiropractors and the medical community. With no answers and no relief, she had to take constant medication. She was also told that she would simply have to learn to live with her pain and dizziness because no one could find out what was wrong.

According to the patient's testimony (which can be seen on You Tube by searching for Dr. Mac Lee Headache Treatment), all of the above symptoms have gone away. Why? Because the orthotic freed the jaw to let it go where it wanted to go, which in turn, allowed the stressed muscles to relax and the pain stopped. The reason the ears cleared up is because the joint was no longer being pushed back into the ear area.

Obviously, not all headaches are caused by what dentists call TMD (Tempromandibular Dysfuntion), but the mouth plays a huge role in how the temple, sinuses, ear, jaw, joint, neck, etc., feel. Every dentist has his or her own way of treating TMD. Some cases are very simple to treat and some are quite difficult. If you are having any pain in the head, neck or ears, it is a good idea to let your dentist know.

You can learn more about TMD from a "White Board" presentation my great dentist friend from Calgary put on You Tube by searching for Curtis Westersund. It is a great learning tool that was developed to serve all.

Mac Lee is a dentist in practice in Edna. He is the co-founder of Dentists Who Care, a national movement to educate the public on modern dentistry. If you have dental questions you can call him at 361-782-7191or visit him at drmaclee.com.

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