The average person takes between 17,000 and 30,000 breaths in one day. That’s a lot of air traveling through your respiratory system! As long as air is traveling into your lungs, you might not be concerned about whether it’s flowing in through your mouth or your nose. Breathing is breathing, right?
Maybe not. Humans were designed to breathe through the nose, which provides a natural filtration and humidifier for the air they take in. When it becomes difficult to breathe through your nose – you have a cold or you’re breathing hard after exercising, it’s normal and appropriate to take in oxygen through your mouth.
However, when mouth breathing become chronic in older children and adults, it can cause serious health concerns including problems with speech, the need for braces and orthodontia facial development issues, lack of oxygen and even changes in posture. It’s certainly a problem that needs to be addressed as early as possible.
In Through Your Nose, Not Through Your Mouth
Typically, mouth breathing starts because of a blockage of the nasal passages. Whether it’s allergies, enlarged tonsils or sinus issues, it may be difficult for a child or adult suffering from any of those conditions to breath easily through the nose.
It’s a common issue, and in fact affects up to 40% of the population. Unfortunately, even if the underlying problem is addressed, the habit of mouth breathing can continue and remain a problem.
It’s only been recently that the negative impacts of mouth breathing have been studied and exposed. Understanding how mouth breathing can affect the health of you and your children may compel you to seek medical intervention if required.
Snoring and Poor Sleep Quality
Mouth breathers snore more during sleep. Snoring can interfere with the quality of sleep and healthful rest of an individual and lead to tiredness and lack of focus during the day. Snoring can also aggravate sleep apnea.
Incredibly, breathing through your mouth can cause an altered positioning of your head and shoulders as your body must adjust to keep airways open. Elevated shoulders, forward positioning of the head and increased curvature of the spine can result.
Changed Facial Appearance
Over time, young children who predominantly mouth breathe may experience changes in the overall shape of face. Abnormal tongue positioning can lead to narrow faces and misaligned teeth.
Decreased Oxygen and Compromised Immune System
Chronic mouth breathing means bypassing the body’s natural filtration system against germs, allergens and other pollutants. In fact, the nose produces its own bacteria-killing gas – nitric oxide. Mouth breathers lose that advantage of fighting off common microbes with every breath they take. Nitric oxide also enhances your lungs’ capacity to absorb oxygen.
Are You a Mouth Breather?
If you or your child suffers from chronic mouth breathing, addressing the issue sooner rather than later can help prevent many of the issues mentioned above. It’s essential to retrain your child to breathe normally through the nose.
- Identify the underlying cause and treat allergies or sinus issues.
- Focus on your own breathing patterns (we usually don’t!).
- Encourage children to breathe through their noses.
- See a dentist or orthodontist about a jaw expander if necessary.
90% of a child’s facial development is complete by early adolescence, so correct mouth breathing issues before they become untreatable!
Healthy bodies start with healthy teeth. With locations in Alexandria, VA and Washington DC, DC Smiles provides a holistic approach to dental care that incorporates total-body health and wellness. Learn more at DCSmiles.com.