Mouth Breathing: Physical, Mental and Emotional Consequences

New freshly pressed article that I wrote alongside one of the world leaders in breathing re-education Patrick Mckeown.  This article talks about the importance of proper nasal breathing versus the consequences of mouth breathing, followed by a self help exercise to decongest the nose.  Enjoy and please feel free to share as the goal is to bring out awareness to the public.  CLICK HERE TO READ


How can an Orofacial Myofunctional Therapist enhance your dental practice?

Are you one of the many dental professionals seeking for the latest and most innovative treatments out there to not just help your patients; but to make you the #1 dental professional in your community?  With that in mind, having an Orofacial Myofunctional Therapist as part of your team WILL enhance your practice.

What is an Orofacial Myofunctional Therapist?

Orofacial Myofunctional therapists are highly trained medical/dental individuals whom work in a multidisciplinary way with other medical and dental professionals; in order to provide neurological re-education of the oral facial muscles in the treatment of Myofunctional Disorders.  The therapy they provide is known as Myofunctional Therapy, and is well known for the re-patterning of the stomatognathic functions which include breathing, mastication, deglutition and positive behavioral modifications.  Hence, through time and repetition neuroplasticity is developed.

What benefits can an Orofacial Myofunctional Therapist bring to my practice?

Benefits of having an Orofacial Myofunctional Therapist as part of your team can include, but are not limited to:

  • Decrease in orthodontic relapse

  • Elimination of tongue thrust (which can not only create malocclusions, but periodontal disease, digestive problems and more)

  • Facial esthetic benefits

  • Breathing re-education (helps patients suffering from mouth breathing)

  • Lip seal

  • Aide in the treatment of sleep disordered breathing (obstructive sleep apnea)

  • Decrease snoring

  • Aide with TMD (Jaw pain)

  • Aide with proper oral resting posture

  • Aide in the treatment of Myofunctional Disorders

The sad part is that Myofunctional Disorders are often an undiagnosed condition, which leads to seemingly unrelated physical problems and symptoms.  As a dental professional, incorporating an Orofacial Myofunctional Therapist as part of your team, can help you stand out from the crowd. Providing your patients, a non-invasive therapy can help increase their overall quality of life, while enhancing your dental treatments.

Understanding Myofunctional Disorders

The real key to understanding Myofunctional Disorders is to realize that the muscles of our bodies form and shape our bones.  The tongue, being the biggest muscle positioned in the center of the mouth is critical in developing the proper shape of the upper jaw.  People who are “tongue tied” or have an abnormal tongue position during swallowing due to an “open bite” often suffer from a Myofunctional Disorder.  Since the upper jaw is also the base of the skull, its shape affects the upper airway and the shape of the face.  Disruption in normal breathing pattern can affect head posture resulting in neck pain, TMD pain and facial muscle pain.  In addition, airway issues have major consequences and varied symptoms.  Many people live with these symptoms their entire life not knowing that it is not normal or there is a solution.  Dental health care providers are in a unique position to identify Myofunctional Disorders because we primarily deal with the oral cavity and see patients on a regular recurrent basis. (Dr. Alex Shvartsman)

In memory of Dr. Alex Shvartsman.  Dr. Shvartsman was one of the first dentists’ on Long Island, NY to incorporate an Orofacial Myofunctional Therapist into his dental practice.

Lingual and Labial Frenums: Early Detection can Prevent Cascading Health Effects Associated with Tongue-tie

Frenums are membraneous folds of skin or membranes that support or restrict the movement of a part or organ.  There are several frenums in the oral cavity; with the maxillary labial frenum (found on the underside of the upper lip), mandibular labial frenum (found on the underside of the lower lip) and the lingual frenum (found on the underside of the tongue) being the most prominent.  If one of the frenums are restricted, cascading health effects may follow. Therefore, early detection, treatment, and management are key.  Unfortunately, these oral anomalies are often overlooked in the clinical and medical settings.  Therefore, I wrote this article with a colleague of mine, to raise awareness of the importance of early frenum restriction, identification, and all of the health effects associated with them if not addressed.  Enclosed within the article are also some post operative wound care exercises that must be followed through post frenectomy.

The primary function of these frenums is to keep the lips and tongue in harmony with the growing bones of the mouth during development.  They play a critical role in breastfeeding, the development of the orofacial structures, the swallow, speech, posture and more.  In the event of a frenum restriction, the person must undergo a minor surgical procedure known as a frenectomy.  Post operative, it is imperative to follow through with proper stretches and exercises, in order to prevent reattachment, provide kinesthetic awareness, and promote orofacial balance.  Enjoy!

Frenum Inspection


Are You Breathing Effectively?

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.

mouth breather, upper nasal airway restriction, sleep apnea, low tongue rest posture, tongue thrust, open mouth posture

                           Barbara Greene

-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?

Is Your Tongue Decreasing Your Quality Of Life?

Did you know that your mouth can affect your entire body, and that the position of your tongue makes a world of a difference to your health?  As a Dental Hygienist, Myofunctional Therapist and educator, I can assure you that it does.  For years medical and dental professionals have overseen the power of the oral cavity, and now are finally discovering that the position of the tongue has been the missing link to many illnesses.  Yes! YOUR TONGUE!!! “The spot” where your tongue should sit is critical in the development of your airway and overall health.

So how can you tell if your tongue is in the correct spot? 

Simple.  The tip of your tongue at rest and during swallowing should be about a half inch behind your upper front teeth on the gums.  This location is called “THE SPOT”.  I bet you just checked, and realized that your tongue has not been up there all your life.  Well…. There are many reasons why this could be.

pic tongue

                  By: Martha Macaluso

How does my tongue position affect my health?

The tongue is made up of eight muscles.  It is one of the most critical organs in your body.   It has the ability to shape your palate, the way your teeth are seated in your mouth; it influences your body posture, aides with your speech, and determines the opening of your airway among other. The base of your tongue is located in the throat, and has the ability to shape your throat muscles. The rest of the tongue, which is located in the center of the oral cavity, is critical and essential in developing the upper jaw, the shape of your face, and your upper nasal airway.  Your mouth is the gateway to your health.  If there is an imbalance of your tongue, teeth, and breathing, a downward spiral of endless illnesses will be present such as:

  • Sleep Disordered Breathing- An umbrella term used to describe a variety of chronic sleep disorders, in which your breathing throughout the night is impacted. This results in daytime sleepiness, fatigue, impaired learning and a decreased quality of life.

  • Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders- Muscular disorders pertaining to the head and neck. They affect directly and indirectly your speech, learning, and breathing, relapse of braces, body posture, and overall health.

  • Chronic Facial Pain- Pain that is present in either the head or neck region that no doctor seems to find a true reason for.

  • Swallowing Disorders, Infant Feeding Problems, Postural Problems, Esthetic Changes and Many, many more…


Why is my tongue not in the correct spot?

The posture of your tongue depends on a variety of different things, but the most prominent reasons that contribute to this are:

  • Restricted Lingual Frenum- The string under your tongue, which attaches to the floor of your mouth, may be restricted. When this happens, your tongue cannot function properly and affects the way you swallow.

  • Mouth Breathing- When you breathe through your mouth your tongue will always sit on the floor of your mouth no matter how hard you try to keep it up there.

What can I do to get my tongue back up on “THE SPOT”?

  • Keep your entire tongue plastered onto the roof of your mouth during rest- Place the tip of your tongue on “The Spot”, and bring the middle part of your tongue up to the roof of your mouth. While at rest, your tongue should always be here.

  • Swallowing- During a normal swallow the tip of the tongue moves up to the spot, the middle of the tongue comes up and the tongue makes a slight suction motion to move the food down the esophagus. No major facial movements are present, and the tongue does not come forward and/or between the teeth.

  • Lips Together- Keep your lips sealed at all times, except for talking

  • Nose breathing- Keep your tongue up on the spot and breath in through your nose, while at rest. This can help the tongue adapt to its proper place.

The power of your tongue is enormous; if it is not in its proper balance neither will the rest of your body.  Proper posture of your tongue, mouth and lips will help you achieve proper facial and body balance.  Where is your tongue now?    

Snoring and Childhood Obesity 

A link between chronic lack of sleep in children and Obesity has been established.  “The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children who snore regularly be screened for sleep apnea — partly because it’s easier to prevent childhood obesity than to treat it.”