What is Mouth Breathing?
Mouth breathing is when a person mostly breaths using their mouth rather than their nose.
Sometimes it’s temporary due to blocked nasal passages and illness.
Mouth breathing can become chronic and this may impact your health.
It’s important not to ignore mouth breathing, it could be a symptom of something else and you may need medical advice and help.
What causes mouth breathing?
These are just some of the factors that may cause or influence mouth breathing:
Narrow facial structure
Swollen or enlarged tonsils
Weak or low muscle tone due to lack of chewing
Thumb & finger sucking
What are some symptoms of mouth breathing?
Constant feeling of tiredness upon waking
Unable to concentrate
Bad mouth odour
Is Mouth Breathing common?
It’s estimated that 4 out of 5 people are mouth breathers! Generally, there are three types of mouth breathing:
Obstructive Mouth Breathing
Habitual Mouth Breathing
Anatomic Mouth Breathing
Is Mouth Breathing Bad?
Before we answer this question, we are not here trying to scare you, and we just want you to get some good information and seek professional help. At Channon Lawrence Dental, we will help you get a clear diagnosis and ensure you get help.
Mouth breathing can cause a number of speech and dental problems. Mouth breathing can become a habit that develops when we have colds, flu's, allergies and sinus inflammation. In most instances, it will resolve as the cold is gone, however, for some it can stay.
One problem in particular with mouth breathing is that it may cause continuous hyperventilation (too much oxygen not enough carbon dioxide).
Mouth Breathing and Dental Issues
As in our previous blog post, (read full article here) Jason Alfrey explains it like this:
“From a dental perspective, mouth breathing has a detrimental effect on the entire mouth.
Mouth breathing results in a drying effect which increases bacterial growth on the gums and teeth resulting in an increased risk of gum disease and dental decay.
The drying results in reduced salivary coverage over the gums, teeth, tongue and the tonsils resulting in reduced antibacterial effect of the saliva on these tissues, more irritation and disease!
Imagine exposing the inside of your eyelids to the wind, now do that forever! Wait for the eye problems to develop.”
Mouth Breathing and Crowded Teeth
“Mouth breathing almost guarantees dental crowding and developmental issues. The mouth is meant to remain closed most of the time (unless you’re like me and have a child that can talk underwater).
It is only meant to open to talk, eat and drink.
When at rest, the tongue is meant to rest against the palate and press gently against the inside of all the top teeth. The lips remain closed and sealed helping to ensure air is pulled in through the nose bringing with it that beautiful Nitric Oxide.
The muscles of the face are relaxed and the teeth remain slightly apart. This creates a balance between the tongue against the teeth on the inside and the lips and cheeks on the outside of the teeth. The teeth then align in a neutral zone of pressure between the two.
In mouth breathing this harmony is completely destroyed as the individual has to open the mouth, dropping the tongue down to open the airway to allow the air in. This action draws the cheeks against the teeth creating a narrow long face with dental crowding in process.”
What is Nitric Oxide and why does it matter?
This is going to get a little bit sciency, but hang in there…. this is super helpful information that makes it all make sense.
Nitric Oxide is a gas that is released to the cardiovascular system via nasal breathing.
It’s main job is to keep the airways & vessels open.
This means that it reduces blood pressure and increases blood flow to our organs. (Quick reminder of some of our main organs - Heart, lungs, brain, kidneys, stomach, intestines, bladder and liver).
Nitric oxide helps to get oxygen into our haemoglobin in our blood, which in turn is very important role for our entire body and systems. We need blood and we need it delivered everywhere!
Cool fact: Nitric oxide can help keep us well and fight viruses and bugs in the nose and naval cavity. It’s one of our first lines of defence.
Do mouth breathers get less oxygen?
The short answer, is yes it may mean that you’re getting less oxygen.
We get Nitric oxide from breathing through our nose and it helps keep our airways and vessels open, so that we in turn, can get as much oxygen as we possibly can.
Nose Breathing v Mouth Breathing
According to most health professionals, our nose was made for breathing. When we are born we breathe through our nose.
Yes, it’s better to breath through your nose rather than your mouth.
How do you know if you mouth breath?
Start at home first….
You can start to pay attention while you’re awake.
You can ask family and friends if they have noticed you breathing through your mouth.
You can ask family and friends to check you when you sleep.
We recommend speaking to trained & professional practitioners to get a diagnosis:
Dentist - Channon Lawrence Dental
ENT (Ear Nose Throat Specialist)
GP or local doctor
Mouth Breathing and Children
It might seem harmless, but it might be more complicated and serious than you realise. There is a serious element to mouth breathing in children. We strongly recommended you look into why your child is mouth breathing and work on a plan to do something about it.
According to one article, these are some of the complications that you might need to be aware of.
Ignoring your child's mouth breathing might lead to physical abnormalities and learning challenges. Kids who remain undiagnosed and untreated might develop any of the following:
Longer jaws and facial structure
Overbite & underbite
Lack of sleep
It’s important to get a firm diagnosis and medical help when it comes to mouth breathing. Don’t wait, go book an appointment and get that ball rolling.
How To Stop or Fix Mouth Breathing?
There is no magic one answer to this question. It can be a complicated and serious issue and should be dealt with on a case by case basis by a trained health practitioner. Start with your dentist or GP.
Treatments and therapies that might help you with mouth breathing:
A Dental Appliance
Buteyko breathing therapy
Change of diet
We hope that this has been helpful ! Please feel free to book an appointment with any of our dentists at Channon Lawrence Dental, Dr Mark Cull, Dr Branka or Dr Luke to discuss your mouth breathing concerns.