Did you know that your breathing method can cause detrimental health effects down the road if performed incorrectly? It is known that humans take over 20,000 breaths per day. Breathing is an essential part of life. It is described as small gentle breaths in and out of the nose. But in the case of a mouth breather, proper nasal breathing can be nearly impossible to achieve.
Are You A Mouth Breather?
Mouth breathing is characterized as breathing in and out of your mouth repeatedly. If you are unsure if you or someone you know is a mouth breather; simply observe them as they breathe for three minutes straight. If they’ve had their mouth open the entire time regardless of whether or not they have a cold etc; chances are that they are a victim of mouth breathing.
Health Consequences Due To Mouth Breathing
As we know mouth breathing can be detrimental to your overall health. Proper nasal breathing is essential for proper facial growth and development as well as an increased quality of life. When you breathe through your nose, you inhale small traces of the gas nitric oxide. This gas is produced in your nose and helps maintain a balance within your body among other health benefits. Studies have also shown that mouth breathing can help set the stage for life-long respiratory problems. Mouth breathing can also be associated with:
-Crooked Teeth- When you breathe through your mouth, your lips will become weak and flaccid leading to poor tongue positioning. This poor tongue positioning and flaccid lips will in return begin to push your teeth in different directions.
-Narrowing of The Nasal Airways- a mouth breather will always carry their tongue low and forward on the floor of the mouth. In return, creating a long narrow face, a high vaulted palate and decreasing the size of the upper nasal airway as seen below.
-Gum Disease- Mouth breathing will impact your teeth and gums. When you breathe through your mouth, your mouth will become dry and will make the bacteria in your mouth more aggressive.
-Asthma, High Blood Pressure, Hyperventilation, Reduced Sports Performance and other cascading health effects.
What Contributes To Mouth Breathing?
There are a myriad of reasons why some people may prefer to breathe through their mouth, rather than their nose; some of which may include:
-Enlarged Tonsils and Adenoids- Tonsils and adenoids are part of your immune system. The tonsils are two round lumps found in the back of your throat. The adenoids are found high above the tonsils behind the nose and are not visible from your nose and or throat. If they are enlarged they can contribute to a blocked airway. Many studies have shown that people with enlarged tonsils/adenoids are more prone to having sleep breathing disorders such as sleep apnea.
When a person suffers from these enlargements, not only will their airway be blocked, but they can also contribute to an abnormal swallowing pattern known as a tongue thrust (when the tongue comes forward and presses against the teeth during swallowing and speech). This irregular swallowing pattern can set the stage for dental problems and affect your overall health.
-Restricted Maxillary Frenum-The maxillary frenum is the string underneath your upper lip. It is located between your two upper front teeth and if there is a restriction; a space between your two upper front teeth known as a diastema, will be present. This restriction can also lead to habitual mouth breathing; where the person is forced to breathe through their mouth because they cannot close their lips together.
-Processed Foods- Processed foods acidify your blood, by trying to regulate your bloods pH level causing you to breathe heavier.
-Poor Posture, Allergies, Sinus Trouble, Colds and Many more…
How To Reverse Your Mouth Breathing
-Buteyko Breathing Exercises- A series of breathing exercises that can help you breathe properly through your nose again.
-Myofunctional Therapy- Neuromuscular re-education of the muscles of the head and neck. This therapy consists of orofacial and tongue exercises that help establish proper nasal breathing, aides with sleep apnea, and many more.
-Nasal Breathing Strips- These can be placed on the nose to help open up the upper airways and may help decrease snoring if the nose is blocked.
-Taping- Taping your mouth at night with a small piece of micro-pore paper tape going vertically from underneath your nose to your chin can help eliminate mouth breathing during your sleep and may help decrease snoring.
-Nose cones- They can be used to open up the nostrils, and help establish nasal breathing at night as well.
-Ear Nose and Throat Doctor- While trying all of these remedies may help, it is important to get to the root of the cause. A visit to your ENT may be advised.
Mouth breathing affects many of us nowadays. The quality of air we breathe, the foods we eat, and even some hereditary facial traits that we inherit from our parents can play a major role in this. Have you tried any of these tips?