Breathing is something we subconsciously do all day long, and it typically happens without our intention or awareness. Our bodies allow us to take in air and oxygen through our mouths or nose, and while it may not seem like a critical difference, our method of breathing greatly impacts our nervous system and overall health and well-being.
Our nose was created to be our primary method of breathing, intricately designed to slow, warm, filter and humidify the air we breathe for optimal respiration. This is also where a gas called nitric oxide is released, utilizing the flow of air into the nasal passages to be carried into the rest of the body where it protects the body against pathogens, improves blood flow, and enhances respiration. This supports digestion, allows for more restful sleep, and can even improve athletic performance by allowing athletes to do more with less effort. Mouth breathing involves faster more shallow breaths which activates our “fight or flight” nervous system, preparing our bodies to react quickly in times of danger. Chronic mouth breathing keeps us in this heightened state of awareness which increases feelings of stress and anxiety and interrupts proper rest and digestion. Ultimately, this imbalance can lead to increased inflammation and a higher risk for developing chronic diseases.
Signs & Symptoms:
Many people who are habitual mouth breathers have never given it notice and may even deny it if questioned, but there are certain signs and symptoms that can signal dysfunctional breathing:
- noisy breathing; fast breathing
- open mouth posture
- chronic allergies; asthma
- frequent sighing or yawning
- myofunctional & speech disorders
- forward head posture
- snoring or sleep apnea
- tongue tie; narrow dental arch
- inability to focus, daytime sleepiness and anxiety
- increased inflammation in the body
- anxiety; overactive response to stimuli
Importance of Nasal Breathing in Children
Mouth breathing is particularly damaging to proper development in children. A habit of mouth breathing changes the way the facial and jaw muscles are used, and when it occurs during the critical window of craniofacial growth it can result in undeveloped jaws, crowded teeth, and small nasal airways. This affects overall facial esthetics and can result in droopy eyes, long narrow faces, and a recessed chin. These children are also far more likely to suffer from enlarged tonsils and adenoids. The fast, unfiltered air coming in through the mouth is an assault to the upper airway- allowing allergens, viruses, and bacteria to penetrate the respiratory track more easily. This frequently results in chronically enlarged tonsils and adenoids which contributes to the development of snoring and sleep apnea in children, and ultimately affects the development of their growing brains. Addressing this problem early in children is critical to give them the best chance at optimal health and development.
At Breathe and Thrive our goal is to identify and treat the structural and functional problems that contribute to dysfunctional breathing. This can involve myofunctional therapy, tongue or lip tie release, referral to physicians for nasal obstruction or allergy testing, and referral to orthodontists and oral surgeons to create more ideal oral airway space. Patients who have successfully restored a nasal breathing habit report the following benefits:
- Improved jaw growth & airway in children
- Better cognitive function
- Increased sense of calm
- Improved focus
- More restful sleep
- Better facial muscle balance & esthetics
- Decreased inflammation
- Decreased allergies and asthma symptoms
Don’t wait another day to start feeling your best! If you or someone you love has developed a habit of mouth breathing, contact us below to schedule an assessment with our team.