It is just what it sounds like breathing through your mouth instead of your nose like nature intended.

Your mouth is for eating.  Your nose is for breathing.

You wouldn’t try to eat pizza with your nose, would you?

Taking air in through your mouth is like eating through your nose….  It’s just wrong!

There are times when we are required to breathe out of our mouth, but it should really be limited to exercising or short periods of time when you are sick with a cold.

Breathing supplies your body with the oxygen it needs to survive. It also allows you to release carbon dioxide and waste. If you can’t breathe, you die. Making it kind of important. Right?

You have two air passageways to your lungs — the nose and the mouth. Healthy people use both their nose and their mouth to breathe. But mainly their nose.

Breathing through the mouth only becomes necessary when you have nasal congestion due to allergies or a cold. Also, when you are exercising strenuously, mouth breathing can help get oxygen to your muscles faster.

Even so, breathing through the mouth all the time, including when you’re sleeping, can lead to problems.

In children, mouth breathing can cause crooked teeth, facial deformities, poor growth, bedwetting, and lack of sleep which in turn makes it difficult to concentrate.  Chronic mouth breathing can cause bad breath and gingivitis. It can also worsen symptoms of other systemic illnesses.

Your mouth is the window into your body an early warning system. One we tend to ignore until we have pain.

We take the importance of our nose and breathing for granted and often do not even pay attention to how we breathe unlit we can’t.

When we breathe through our nose it produces nitric oxide, which improves your lungs’ ability to absorb oxygen.

Nitric oxide increases the ability to transport oxygen throughout your body, including your heart. It relaxes our vascular muscle and allows blood vessels to dilate.

Nitric oxide is also antifungal, antiviral, antiparasitic, and antibacterial. It helps the immune system to fight infections and harmful bacteria and viruses like COVID19.

It’s a very helpful tool when trying to understand the health benefits of breathing correctly through your nose.

Advantages of breathing through your nose People who use the nose to breathe tend to be healthier, happier, less depressed, and anxious overall. The benefits of nasal breathing include:

  • Easier breathing
  • Reduction in stress
  • Lowers hypertension
  • Filters and moisturizes air
  • Decreases dehydration caused by mouth breathing
  • Increased energy
  • Better sleep
  • Increased stamina and endurance
  • Better facial development
  • More attractive facial appearance
  • Balance blood pH
  • Increased nitric oxide and oxygen uptake by maintaining the elasticity in the lungs.
  • Breathing with your diaphragm, not your stomach

How do you know if you are breathing through your mouth? You may not even realize that you’re breathing through your mouth instead of your nose, especially while you sleep. People who breathe through their mouth at night may have the following symptoms:

  • Snoring
  • Bleeding gums on your front teeth (Gingivitis)
  • Dark circles under the eyes
  • Waking up tired and irritable
  • Brain fog… can’t concentrate
  • Bad Breath (halitosis)
  • Hoarseness
  • Sore throat

Symptoms in children

For parents, it’s important to look for signs of mouth breathing in your children. A child may not be able to communicate their symptoms like adults, children who are mouth breathers will breathe with their mouth open and will snore at night. Children who breathe through their mouths for most of the day may also have the following symptoms:

  • dry, cracked lips
  • open mouth resting posture
  • irritability
  • increased crying episodes at night or in the morning
  • large tonsils
  • problems concentrating at school
  • daytime sleepiness
  • dark circles under their eyes
  • slower than the normal growth rate
  • Tooth crowding
  • Sleep disorders
  • Dental concerns such as decay and gum disease
  • Allergies
  • Gummy smiles
  • Lowered immune function
  • bedwetting
  • walking on their tiptoes

Children who exhibit problems concentrating at school are often misdiagnosed with attention deficit disorder (ADD) or hyperactivity.

What causes mouth breathing?

In most cases of mouth breathing the underlying cause is a completely blocked or partially blocked nasal airway. Meaning, there’s something preventing the passage of air into the nose. If your nose is blocked, the body automatically resorts to the only other source that can provide oxygen — your mouth. Causes include:

  • Nasal congestion caused by allergies, a cold, or a sinus infection
  • Enlarged Tonsils
  • Enlarged Adenoids
  • enlarged turbinates’
  • Throat and ear infections
  • the shape of the nose
  • the shape and size of the jaw causing long narrow faces
  • recessed chin posture
  • Benign growths of tissue in the lining of your nose

How is mouth breathing treated?

Treatment for mouth breathing depends on the cause. Medications can treat nasal congestion due to colds and allergies. It’s a good idea to address nasal congestion or dryness right away. Tips for preventing mouth breathing include medications:

  • Antihistamines
  • prescription or over-the-counter nasal sprays ( Xclear)
  • Nasal decongestants

If you find that your nose is frequently congested due to allergies or respiratory infections, there are actions you can take to prevent making mouth breathing a habit.

  • adhesive strips applied to the bridge of the nose can also help to breathe. A stiff adhesive strip called a nasal dilator applied across the nostrils helps decrease airflow resistance and helps you breathe more easily through your nose.
  • an oral Myo Munchee
  • keeping your house clean and free of allergens
  • sleeping on your back with your head elevated to open up the airways and promote nasal breathing
  • installing air filters in your heat and air conditioning (HVAC) systems to prevent the spread of allergens in your house
  • consciously practicing breathing through your nose during the day to help force yourself into a habit of nose breathing
  • yoga
  • myo exercises

In children, sometimes surgical removal of swollen tonsils and adenoids can treat mouth breathing.

An oral myofascial therapist might also recommend that your child see a dentist to be evaluated for an appliance designed to widen the palate and help open the sinuses and nasal passages. Braces and other orthodontic treatments might also help treat the underlying cause of mouth breathing.

Early breathing intervention for children is important

Mouth breathing and open mouth resting posture can affect the growth of the face, leading to crooked teeth, receding chin, and insufficient growth of the airway and nasal passages.  If the face doesn’t develop properly, the airway can’t develop properly, and this leads to airway centered illnesses as your child grows. By understanding the importance and benefits of nasal breathing, parents can seek early intervention to correct facial growth and get your child back on track for normal skeletal development.  

FAQ’S Digestive issues can improve?

Gastrointestinal disorders are at an all-time high and this can be contributed to mouth breathing. Mouth breathers chew poorly and quickly with their mouths open and often have rapid eating behaviors.  This leads to aerophagia (swallowing air), gas, bloating, burping, acid reflux, stomach aches, and choking just to name a few consequences. Second, when someone is a mouth breather, it is in constant fight or flight mode. Without the proper balance of the parasympathetic nervous system, response digestion cannot be optimized.

Can nasal breathing improve my oral health?

Yes! Mouth breathing dries out the tissues in th4e mouth and throat. This tissue dryness leads to inflamed tonsils, swollen tongue, bad breath, gingivitis, and cavities.

Does Myo functional therapy help?

Yes.  In addition to teaching correct oral rest posture, which improves breathing, myo functional therapy also teaches nasal breathing.

Can I just tape my mouth shut?

Using a physical barrier to force the body to nasal breath will not correct the habit and can cause trauma to a child who is not ready to have their mouth taped shut.

This trauma can have a reverse effect, resulting in a child being afraid to keep the lips sealed. Some practitioners recommend mouth taping as a way to break the vicious congestion cycle associated with mouth breathing, without considering the importance of first correcting the tongue resting posture.  It may be an option but not the first thing I would try. In addition, attempting to mouth tape before a comprehensive myo functional assessment is not recommended.

You might have a physical reason that prevents adequate nasal breathing, and will require a visit to an ENT, allergist, or both. (deviated septum, swollen nasal turbinate’s, nasal polyps or other condition) As part of a comprehensive myo functional assessment, patent nasal passages will be evaluated as well as any other factors that can contribute to chronic nasal congestion, such as food sensitivities, pet allergies, and inflammation.

What age should I start Myo functional therapy.

It is never too soon to have a consultation. I have seen newborns to 80 years old. As a dental hygienist depending on your needs you may need a speech Pathologist for younger kiddos. The newborn needed tied relived to latch for nursing. Exercises after a tie are clipped are important to help relieve scar tissue.

How long does a treatment take?

It depends on your needs, it can be as little as one session or as long as 12 months. It usually does not go beyond that unless you are a person that needs surgery, orthodontics, or accountability to stay the course. Below is a simple breathing exercise:

How to start nasal breathing in 5 minutes

  1. The first thing you will do is relax and get a comfy sit up straight feel on the flat on the floor. Keep your lips closed.
  2. Just do your normal breathing and when you’re ready you will fully exhale your breath and plug your nose. (You are essentially holding your breath until you feel your body start to really want oxygen!)  After you exhale and plug your nose, count to see how long you can hold your breath.
  3. When you can’t stand it anymore, and your lungs really need air, then let go of your pinched nose and only inhale through your nose!  This is the important part…. you can only breathe through your nose. It may whistle, sound nasty or you may get some surprises, but you have to stay the course and only breathe through your nose, for 15-20 breaths.
  4. Let your breathing return to normal.
  5. Repeat 5 times.

Post in the comments how long you were able to hold your breath!

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