While those of us who grew up in the 80s might remember it as an insult, mouth breathing is actually a genuine medical term, and can have a considerable impact on your oral health.
For example, are you having trouble with a dry mouth and bad breath? It might be because you are a mouth breather.
For most of us, we breathe in through our noses – that’s how the human body is designed to work, after all. Usually, we’ll only inhale using our mouths when our noses are congested, or when we’re in the middle of a tough workout.
All of this is totally fine.
The issue arises when breathing through the mouth becomes your “default” setting. Not only can this cause you a range of problems, but it might even be a sign of a serious health condition.
Is it better to breathe through your nose or your mouth?
Nose breathing improves your lungs’ ability to absorb oxygen as your nose produces nitric oxide (NO) that helps transport oxygen through your body.
In particular, it’s a vasodilator, helping widen blood vessels and directly improving blood flow and lower blood pressure.
And NO is especially common in your nasal airways – breathe using your nose, and you’re allowing more NO to make its way into your system, helping you enjoy its benefits.
Not only that, but your nose also acts as a filter, stopping small particles in the air from making it into your body (and especially your lungs).
Is it good to exhale through the mouth?
If you’re like most people, your nose pulls double duty, looking after both inhaling and exhaling.
While inhaling through your nose is ideal, there’s a reason everybody recommends exhaling through your mouth!
Simply put, your nose’s role as a filter can actually come back to bite you. Double the amount of air going through the nose means double the amount of particles, leading to blocked noses.
More importantly, the nose is much narrower than the mouth, creating a bottleneck – in fact, exhaling through your nose can actually create back-flow into the lungs.
Just to be clear, we understand that breathing is 100% subconscious, and hard to change – luckily for you, exhaling through your nose isn’t anywhere near as damaging as mouth breathing.
So, how do I know if I’m a mouth breather?
Usually, it’s pretty easy to notice you’re a mouth breather – but not all the time.
For some people, their body only resorts to mouth breathing when they sleep, making it a tad difficult to figure out whether or not they’ve gotten into this habit.
However, there are a couple of telltale signs that you can look out for:
- Snoring at night
- Mouth breathing can cause bad breath
- Hoarse voice or dry throat in the morning
- Feeling tired and irritable when you wake up
- Suffering from prolonged fatigue
Each of these are symptoms of mouth breathing – if you notice them appearing with increasing frequency, it might be time to start thinking about your oral health!
Not-so-sweet dreams: is it normal to sleep with your mouth open?
As we mentioned above, normally we only mouth breathe in two situations:
- Our nose is out of action (such as if you have hayfever or a cold)
- You need more air than your nose can supply (e.g.: while you’re exercising)
Every other time, you breathe through your nose, so you’re in the clear – so why is it that you still experience all the mouth breathing symptoms?
Here’s an answer: could it be that you’re mouth breathing while you’re asleep?
Many people might be mouth breathing without even realising it.
Conditions such as sleep apnoea can impact your ability to breathe while you’re asleep. In other cases, nasal congestion can get worse while you’re lying in bed – something that isn’t a problem normally.
In order to compensate, your body automatically starts breathing through your mouth.
The exact reason can differ from person to person – and so can the best solution. For solutions to your unique problems, it’s probably time to start ringing a dental clinic in Armadale and booking a check-up.
Why is mouth breathing bad?
So far, we’ve been focusing on explaining mouth breathing, and why it happens.
But what makes it something that should be avoided?
There are many reasons why mouth breathing isn’t good for your oral health. However, a lot of them all come back to one thing: saliva.
Your saliva plays a crucial role in your oral health, washing away bacteria and other dirt from your mouth.
Mouth breathing leads to dry mouth. Without enough saliva in your mouth, you may experience a range of subsequent oral health conditions such as:
- Bad breath
- Poor sleep
- Tooth cavities
- Higher risk of nose and ear infection
And all of these come with a range of flow-on effects.
For example, a dry mouth can increase the amount of bacteria in your mouth, which may increase your risk of gum disease.
And that in turn can cause your gums to recede, weakening your teeth and even leading to tooth misalignment or loss in extreme cases!
Why is my child a mouth breather?
Childhood is a crucial time for oral health. This is where habits are made, and where the groundwork for the rest of your life is laid.
Needless to say, any issues caused by mouth breathing here have the potential to ripple throughout the rest of your child’s life.
For most kids, allergies, tonsillitis, and enlarged and swollen adenoids may result in your child mouth breathing, creating a bad habit that might negatively affect them for the rest of their lives.
Address these problems early, before the resulting mouth breathing habit becomes entrenched!
Can you reverse mouth breathing effects?
It depends on how severe your mouth breathing is, but most of the time you can still reverse its effects, especially when it’s detected and corrected early, before the worst side effects have kicked in.
This goes for children and adults – most of the consequences are only temporary, after all, with only severe cases resulting in permanent effects.
Unsure if your case can be reversed? Our family dentist in Armadale can help.
So, how do you fix mouth breathing?
Practice, practice, practice – can you train yourself to not be a mouth breather?
Mouth breathing may be a bad habit – just like any other habit however, it can be broken.
It all takes regular breathing practice, consciously using your nose for you to kick the habit and start breathing properly.
Take anti-allergies and decongestants
A lot of mouth breathing cases are the result of regular and persistent allergies or congestion blocking up your nose. Take care of these, and your mouth breathing problems will be much easier to solve.
For colds and allergies resulting in nasal congestion, your doctor may prescribe antihistamines, nasal decongestants and nasal sprays that can clear your nose and allow you to breathe more comfortably.
Clean your nose
People choose to breathe in their mouths because their nose is blocked, thus making it easier to inhale and exhale.
Clear your nose regularly so you can enjoy a clear nasal passage free from anything that hinders your breathing and forces you to breathe through your mouth.
Adjust pillow level
In a lot of cases, airflow is completely fine… until you lie down in bed. This is why a lot of people who breathe normally throughout the day struggle with mouth breathing at night!
When sleeping, you can try to adjust your pillow’s height and prop yourself up slightly, especially if you struggle breathing using your nose.
Consult an ENT specialist
Improving your breathing may take the expertise of a professional Ear Nose Throat (ENT) specialist that can help you improve your breathing by their recommended therapies.
Mouth breathing problems? Call an Armadale dentist today!
Mouth breathing will always have a compounding effect on your oral health. This is why you need the help of a dentist in Armadale.
You might not think that being a mouth breather is an oral problem – take our word for it however, it is!
So if you’re having problems with mouth breathing and would like to take care of your oral health, then you better book an appointment with an emergency dentist near you.
Dental Care Group uses a gentle and caring approach to all your family members, making you feel at ease from the moment you first walk inside our clinic.
Our friendly staff helps you deal with all kinds of oral health issues – mouth breathing included. In addition to providing care, we’ll also educate you, teaching you how to develop good oral hygiene habits.