The ability to breathe through both the mouth and nose is a truly remarkable one. However, these two kinds of breathing are not created equal. Despite the fact that one method is more natural for some people and the other more natural for others, the problems of mouth breathing are well documented. If you struggle to breath effortlessly through your nose, we recommend taking steps now to change that.
What Causes Mouth Breathing?
The cause of mouth breathing is specific to the individual. Sometimes the condition is temporary, the result of nasal congestion that is the symptoms of having a cold, enduring the flu, or suffering from allergies or hay fever. In such cases, the problem can often be reversed by taking nasal decongestants or antihistamines. These and prescription nasal sprays can reduce inflammation and congestion so you can breathe normally through your nose.
In other cases, breathing through the mouth may be the result of years of habit. When this is true, breaking the habit is obviously easier before the practice becomes entrenched. An Ear Nose Throat (ENT) specialist can be a helpful resource to know if any other issues are contributing to the compulsion to breathe through your mouth. Such professionals often have helpful therapies to recommend.
Mouth breathing in children is commonly caused by swollen adenoids and tonsillitis. Allergies also play a key role. If your child’s tonsils or adenoids are inhibiting their ability to breathe naturally through their nose, address such issues early on, before the habit can become too deeply rooted.
Is Nose Breathing Better for Teeth?
Nasal breathing has been shown to be the healthiest and most effective way to breathe. Breathing through the nose aids in healthy anatomical development, especially in the upper airway and skeletal and dental structures. The nose functions as a filter that removes dust and other particles from the air going into the lungs. This allows cleaner air in healthier volumes to circulate through the respiratory system.
On the other hand, breathing through your mouth reduces the sinus’ ability to add moisture to the air you breathe in, drying out the mouth. This shifts the pH levels in the mouth, cultivating a more corrosive environment. Reduced saliva production makes it more difficult for the body to flush away bacteria and toxins.
As if those problems of mouth breathing were not enough, the condition can also lead to real structural issues like temporo-mandibular disorder of the jaw joints, malocclusion, myofascial pain, periodontal disease, impacted teeth, and bruxism-related fractures and wear on the teeth. Other issues surrounding the upper airway include enlarged adenoids and tonsils, snoring, headaches, difficulty sleeping or disturbed sleep.
The Symptoms—Further Problems of Mouth Breathing
The problems of mouth breathing don’t usually jump immediately to oral structural damage. More mild symptoms can help indicate that there is a problem, even if you are unaware of breathing through your mouth while unconscious. These are some of the other common symptoms of mouth breathing:
- Restless sleep
- Chronic bad breath (halitosis)
- Dry mouth in the morning
- Dry or chapped lips
- Increased incidence of colds
- Increased incidence of sinus and ear infections
- Inflamed gums (gingivitis) or gum disease
- Crowded teeth
- Tooth staining
- Tooth decay
Are the Problems of Mouth Breathing Reversible?
The unfortunate news is that some of the worst problems of mouth breathing are irreversible or at least take a lot of dental work to correct. This is true of rampant tooth decay and disorders involving the jawbone. Fortunately, other effects of mouth breathing can be turned around if they are caught early enough.
Particularly if the sufferer is a child, detecting mouth breathing early on (before the worst effects have kicked in) goes a long way to correcting it and reversing the effects. Mouth breathing is a habit, which means it can be broken with sufficient practice. Begin during the day when you can consciously choose how you breathe, and make sure your nose is clear.
As you shift into making sure you breathe through your nose at night, you might need to make sure you are propped up sufficiently in bed for you to breathe freely. This may mean adding or removing pillows or trying a different kind. As you work to find the right solution for you to avoid the problems of mouth breathing, consult with your doctor and dentist.