Your Breathing Habits May Be More Harmful Than You Think

Your Breathing Habits May Be More Harmful Than You Think

How can something as simple as breathing through your mouth cause harm?

You’ve been breathing through your mouth for a long time and you’ve yet to notice any negative side-effects other than a dry mouth, and that’s more annoying than harmful. At this point, it’s become natural to you, and you continue to do it without realizing that you’re causing yourself significant harm.

What happens when you breathe through your mouth?

Believe it or not, how you breathe has significant effects on your body.

When you breathe through your nose, you take fuller, deeper breaths, which stimulates your lower lung and allows it to spread more oxygen throughout your body. Your lower lung is also closely connected to your parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for calming your body and mind.

Breathing through your mouth, on the other hand, stimulates the upper lungs and triggers your sympathetic nerve receptors, causing you to be more hyperactive and unable to fall into a deep sleep. Your body then produces adrenaline to make up for the exhaustion.

What are the consequences of breathing through your mouth?

No one is safe from the many consequences of mouth breathing, regardless of their age. These are just a few of the complications that can arise if you don’t regularly breathe through your nose.

Dry mouth

That uncomfortable feeling you experience after breathing through your mouth isn’t just inconvenient. It’s the result of your breathing habits drying out your mouth and removing the first layer of defence against harmful bacteria. This puts you at risk of halitosis (constant bad breath) and tooth decay.

Low energy

Your sleep quality will take a turn for the worse, as will your energy levels. For school-aged children, this means difficulty paying attention in class. Adults who breathe through their mouth may notice a decrease in work productivity.

Changes in your facial structure

If you’ve been breathing through your mouth for a long time, you may have noticed physical changes such as:

  • An elongated face
  • Droopy eyes and dark spots under the eyes
  • Narrow nostrils
  • Dry and/or narrow lips
  • A forward open bite (your front upper and lower teeth jut outward and don’t touch when your mouth is shut)

In addition to the conditions listed above, people who have been breathing through their mouth from childhood are more likely to develop crooked teeth, head/neck aches, ear problems, dizziness, and vertigo, to name a few.

How does mouth breathing cause complications?

Your tongue is the most powerful muscle in your body. It’s supposed to rest on the roof of your mouth in a U-shape. If you don’t or can’t breathe through your nose, your mouth opens and your tongue goes down and forward, shaping the teeth and bone with its constant pushing, creating a V-shape in your mouth.

If your tongue is pushing against your teeth, it can lead to serious complications over time.

We treated two patients, both of whom reported breathing through their mouths. The first patient’s tongue was lower and thicker on the right side. Their lower teeth followed the shape of their tongue. Patients whose teeth are uneven are likely to have problems in their head, neck, and ears.

The second patient was a “tongue thruster.” Instead of their tongue resting in the proper position on the roof of their mouth, it was pushed forward and their upper jaw was molded around it. Patients with this condition can only bite with their very back teeth, which is similar to only being able to walk on your heels.

How can I treat the effects of mouth breathing?

The most important thing you can do in the fight against mouth breathing is identifying the symptoms. The critical age of preventing the devastating effects is no later than nine years old. Waiting longer than this makes it harder for the bone to remold itself to the correct position.

If you or your loved one is looking for help reversing or preventing damage, reach out to Dr. Andrea Stevens.