J Korean Acad Pediatr Dent.  2019 Feb;46(1):38-47. 10.5933/JKAPD.2019.46.1.38.

Relationship between Upper Airway and Sleep-Disordered Breathing in Children with Mouth Breathing

  • 1Department of Pediatric Dentistry and Institute of Oral Bioscience, School of Dentistry, Chonbuk National University, Korea. pedo1997@jbnu.ac.kr


The most common cause of mouth breathing is obstacles caused by mechanical factors in upper airway. Mouth breathing could be consequently pathological cause of sleep-disordered breathing. Sleep-disordered breathing in children can cause growth disorders and behavioral disorders. The purpose of this study was to investigate relationship between upper airway and sleep-disordered breathing in children with mouth breathing. Twenty boys between 7 - 9 years old who reported to have mouth breathing in questionnaire were evaluated with clinical examination, questionnaires, lateral cephalometric radiographs, and portable sleep testing. This study assessed apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) and oxygen desaturation index (ODI) for the evaluation of sleep-disordered breathing and was done to investigate the correlation between these values and the upper airway width measured by lateral cephalometric radiographs. There was no significant correlation with the size of the tonsils (p = 0.921), but the adenoid hypertrophy was higher in the abnormal group than in the normal group (p = 0.008). In the classification according to AHI and ODI, retropalatal and retroglossal distance showed a statistically significant decrease in the abnormal group compared to the normal group (p = 0.002, p = 0.001). As AHI and ODI increased, upper airway width tended to be narrower. This indicates that mouth breathing could affect the upper airway, which is related to sleep quality.


Mouth breathing; Sleep-disordered breathing; Upper airway
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