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Mouth Breathing Facts

Can mouth breathing be hurting my health?
Mouth Breating and your HealthThe nose is designed to act as a natural filter and humidifier for the air we breathe. When the body is unable to take in an adequate amount of air through the nose, the mouth begins to take over. Healthy individuals may temporarily switch to oral respiration when their nasal passages become blocked due to a cold, or during strenuous exercise when the body's demand for oxygen increases. A chronic mouth breather inhales and exhales primarily through their mouth regardless of their activity.

Chronic Mouth Breathing Health Effects
Mouth breathing is caused by many factors, including chronic allergies, sinus trouble, or enlarged tonsils. Once the habit is established, it may continue even after the initial obstruction is successfully treated. The condition typically can be seen at an early age and it's estimated to affect as much as 40% of the population. Despite this high prevalence, the health care field historically has not given much attention to the many problems caused by habitual mouth breathing, and the many ways it can impact a person's quality of life.

  1. Poor sleep quality
    Not breathing well through the nose can reduce an individual's quality of sleep and may aggravate existing sleep apnea. Not sleeping well can cause tiredness and lack of concentration during the day, and in children may result in poor academic performance and behavioral problems similar to ADHD.

  2. Bad breath and gum disease
    Research has found a significant association between halitosis (bad breath) and chronic mouth breathing. The development of bad breath is thought to be due to the drying of the lining of the mouth, which reduces saliva flow and causes an increase in odor-producing bacteria. This proliferation of bacteria is also a major factor in the progression of gum disease.

  3. Postural changes
    Mouth breathing can result in an altered position of the head, shoulders, and spine as the body makes adaptations necessary to keep the airway open. Forward head posture, elevated shoulders, increased curvature of the spine, and tilting of the pelvis are all common traits found to be associated with this form of respiration.

  4. Snoring
    Snoring Treatment Reno NVLoud snoring is one of the primary characteristics mouth breathers exhibit during sleep. Snoring can both interfere with an individual's quality as well as cause relationship difficulties with whoever shares the bedroom with the offending party.

  5. Changes in face shape and appearance
    Dr. Yosh Jefferson, a New Jersey orthodontist and author of recent report in the journal General Dentistry, notes that over time, children whose mouth breathing goes untreated may suffer from abnormal facial and dental development, such as long, narrow faces, gummy smiles, and misaligned teeth. Other alterations in facial appearance seen include an anterior open bite, incomplete lip closure, and dark under eye circles.

  6. Diminished sense of smell
    Our sense of smell is one of the five ways we interact with our environment and plays an important role in our behavior, emotions, memory, and many nervous system functions. The olfactory receptors responsible for this sense are located in the nose, so breathing in air through the mouth reduces our ability to perceive smells. A diminished sense of smell can cause disturbances in appetite and interfere with normal feelings of satiety after eating, which may create complications for individuals struggling with weight issues.

  7. Compromised immune systemSense of smell and mouth breathing
    Your nose is equipped with a number of safeguards to protect the sensitive tissue of the respiratory tract from the environment. Breathing through the mouth bypasses the nose's natural defenses against germs, allergens, and other pollutants. Nitric oxide gas, produced by the nose, and inhaled only with air breathed through the nasal passageways, has the ability to kill bacteria, viruses and other germs.

  8. Decreased oxygen delivery
    Air is exhaled through the mouth faster than through the nose. Nose breathing creates back pressure that keeps the lungs inflated longer and allows the body to better extract oxygen from the air we breathe in. Mouth breathing poses less resistance and can lead to areas of poor ventilation in the lungs. Additionally, the nitric oxide in the air inhaled through the nose significantly enhances your lung's capacity to absorb oxygen.

  9. Breathing unconditioned air
    Inhaling through the nose warms and humidifies the air before it reaches your lungs, whereas breathing through the mouth does not offer the same benefit. Breathing unconditioned air can affect the sensitive tissue of the airway, particularly for individuals who live in cold, dry climates. Taking cold air into your lungs without allowing your nose to warm it causes the airways to constrict so breathing becomes more difficult.

  10. Exacerbation of asthma symptoms
    A study published in 2008 showed that mouth breathing reduced lung function and initiated asthma symptoms in subjects with mild asthma. Nasal breathing is also thought to provide a protective influence against exercise induced asthma.

Have you experienced any of these effects? This can be corrected with proper diagnosis and treatment of the airway. Click the Online Scheduling button or call (775) 826-1838 so we can assist you.

de Bruin Dental Center Reno NV

631 Sierra Rose Drive • Reno, NV 89511
(775) 826-1838


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