People who breathe through their mouths are at a higher risk of certain oral health conditions. Likewise, breathing through your mouth may indicate an underlying problem, such as sinus infections and deviated septums. In this blog, we’ll look deeper at mouth breathing, including its causes, symptoms, and how to treat mouth breathing.
- What’s the Proper Way to Breathe?
- What Causes Mouth Breathing?
- Health Consequences of Chronic Mouth Breathing
- How Does Chronic Mouth Breathing Affect Children?
- How to Treat Chronic Mouth Breathing
- Mouth Breathing and Oral Health FAQ
What’s the Proper Way to Breathe?
The proper way to breathe is through your nose, including while you’re asleep. Breathing through your nose increases oxygen intake and circulation, provides more lung strength, promotes better sleep, and reduces snoring and sleep apnea.
What Causes Mouth Breathing?
Mouth breathing occurs when your airway or nasal passages are restricted, making it difficult to breathe through your nose. This can be due to specific anatomic structures, allergies, nasal congestion, or asthma. Chronic mouth breathing leads the body to adapt to this breathing pattern and stops nose breathing during sleep.
Signs of Chronic Breathing
- Nighttime teeth grinding (bruxism)
- Bad breath
- Dry or cracked lips
- Sleep disturbances
- Dry mouth
Health Consequences of Chronic Mouth Breathing
Chronic mouth breathing through a narrow or blocked upper airway reduces oxygen to the body, which can result in several health complications. For one, the lack of saliva caused by dry mouth can lead to gum disease, tooth decay, and other dental problems.
Likewise, untreated chronic mouth breathing also constantly strains the heart and brain. Insufficient oxygen to these vital organs can result in chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, mental health issues, and more.
Conditions Caused By Chronic Mouth Breathing:
- Gum disease
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Chronic nasal congestion
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Cardiovascular difficulties (heart disease, stroke)
How Does Chronic Mouth Breathing Affect Children?
In children, chronic mouth breathing can impact growth and development, leading to long and narrow faces, crowded teeth, a gummy smile, overbite, and sleep disorders. Chronic mouth breathing is even known to be associated with poor academic performance.
How to Treat Chronic Mouth Breathing
Targeting significant dental issues like teeth grinding (bruxism) and other underlying problems is the primary method for treating mouth breathing. If allergies are the main cause, then management and medication can be effective in treatment. In some situations, oral surgery is required to remove physical obstructions like enlarged tonsils. Eliminating these problematic factors can open a patient’s airway and promote nasal breathing.
Mouth Breathing and Oral Health FAQ
It’s never too late to fix mouth breathing problems. There’s always an underlying cause of chronic mouth breathing, and the key to fixing the problem is first to address the contributors, whether that be bruxism, allergies, asthma, or something else.
Some studies have shown that early facial aging is associated with chronic mouth breathing.
If mouth breathing begins in childhood when the upper jaw and palate are still developing, it can impact the narrowness of the face and create sunken cheeks. Practicing proper nasal breathing can promote craniofacial structure changes that can improve overall appearance.
Breathing with an open mouth allows dry and cold air to irritate airways and make them susceptible to infection. Because of this, chronic mouth breathing can certainly make you more prone to illnesses like the common cold.