The Impact of Mouth Breathing on Oral and General Health
Presented by: Trisha O'Hehir, RDH, MS
Original Publication Date: April 15, 2015
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Mouth breathing doesn’t look good, but more importantly, it leads to severe oral and general health problems. The physiology of breathing explains why less oxygen is absorbed with mouth breathing compared to nose breathing. Mouth breathing, also called sleep-disordered breathing, is implicated in sleep apnea, attention deficit disorder, and daytime fatigue. Ankyloglossia, infant feeding, pacifier use, thumb sucking, and tongue rest position may all influence mouth breathing. Three essential actions taken by dental professionals will help switch mouth breathers back to nasal breathing.
- Understand oxygen absorption differences between nasal and mouth breathing.
- Describe the systemic implications of mouth breathing.
- Explain how mouth breathing influences facial development in children.
- Describe the benefits of xylitol for enhanced nasal breathing.
Besides clinical dental hygiene practice and several university faculty positions over four decades as an RDH, Trisha is an international speaker, author, instrument designer, and inventor.
Trisha attended the University of Minnesota, receiving degrees in Dental Hygiene and Higher Education. Four decades as a dental hygienist have included private practice in the United States and Zurich, Switzerland, as well as faculty positions at the Universities of Minnesota, Washington, Arizona, and Louisville, Kentucky.
She pioneered the position of Periodontal Therapist in Arizona and worked for several years teaching local anesthesia and providing local anesthesia in an oral surgery practice. In addition to extensive clinical practice experience, she is an instrument designer and international lecturer. She is also on the Board of Directors of AD World Health, a foundation dedicated to bringing healthcare to the underserved. Previously, Trisha was the Editorial Director of Hygienetown.com and President of the Perio Reports Press.
Trisha authored over 26 years of Perio Reports research summaries, hundreds of articles bridging the gap between science and practice, the textbook Compendium of Current Research, and the cartoon book The Toothpaste Secret. She contributed to the text Comprehensive Dental Hygiene Care by Irene Woodall. Her articles have appeared in Hygienetown Magazine, RDH, JDH, JPH, Access, JDR, and JADA.
Her awards include the 1991 Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Minnesota, the School of Dental Hygiene, and the Warner-Lambert/ADHA Excellence in Dental Hygiene Award in 1992. Trisha currently lives and works in Phoenix, Arizona, where she is the past president of the Arizona State Dental Hygienists’ Association.