Mouth Breathing

Mouth Breathing

Mouth breathing occurs when we cannot get enough air through our nose.  This could be due to swollen nasal passages, enlarged turbinates, allergies, enlarged adenoids and/or tonsils, nasal polyps or a deviated septum.  These conditions force us to breathe through our mouths which ,long term, can result in changes of facial development as children grow. This  causes insufficient palate expansion and a more narrow airway.  Such a habit over many years can result in health issues if not corrected.

What can be done?

Many people may not realize the amount of time they spend mouth breathing.  You would think it is as easy as just closing your mouth, however, changing the habit is not that simple.  Also, there may be anatomic reasons why nasal breathing isn't possible, whether it is enlarged tonsils/adenoids, enlarged turbinates, deviated septum.  Over time the throat and tongue compensate to function abnormally, thus creating general health issues.  Correcting the abnormal function with myofunctional therapy can improve one's overall health.

A Myofunctional therapist can be valuable in helping to restore nasal breathing and breaking the habit of mouth breathing.  This transition can promote healthy habits that can improve quality of life.

Why is mouth breathing unhealthy?

Our bodies were designed to breathe through our nose.  Our mouth is for speaking and eating and can be an emergency way of breathing, but it is not meant to be the main way to get air.  When air is brought in through the nose it is filtered, warmed and humidified, thus preparing it for the lungs. It combines with nitric oxide (a chemical that is made in the nasal sinus cavity) which is helpful in the exchange of oxygen.  It helps to dilate the blood vessels which reduces congestion as well as blood pressure .  When air comes in through the mouth, none of that takes place and can allow for increased illness, congestion, dry mouth, dental disease (gum disease and decay), sleep related issues, and swollen tonsillar and adenoid tissue. 

Mouth breathing also forces the tongue to rest low in the mouth rather than resting in the top of the mouth (palate).  When the tongue rests low, the palate does not receive the pressure from the tongue to expand the palate naturally.  This causes the cheek pressure to push against the bone, causing a narrow palate.  This also creates a more narrow nasal cavity/airway.

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