What’s the Problem with Mouth Breathing?

We can all agree that air is pretty important. Without it, we literally cannot survive. Well, how we take in that air is nearly as important as the air itself. How you breathe can affect teeth position, speech, sleep quality, energy levels, and even facial development.

If you breathe through your mouth during the day, it is likely that you breathe through your mouth through the night. Mouth breathing during sleep is often connected with sleep apnea and affected levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the bloodstream. Less oxygen getting to your brain can cause attention/focus problems, chronic fatigue, tiredness, and brain fog. When air is inhaled through the nose, it passes through the nasal mucosa, stimulating nerves that help us achieve deep sleep. Because mouth breathing bypasses the nasal mucosa, it can cause breathing difficulty, snoring, and sleep apnea.

Deep sleep is the time that Human Growth Hormone (HGH) is released. HGH is essential to growth and development. A mouth breather may have identifying facial features, such as a long and narrow face with a less prominent jaw and retracted chin. The open mouth posture drops the chin down and back, with a downward pull of facial muscles and joints.

Children who breathe through their mouths are more likely to struggle with speech. A lisp or struggle with the letter “s” are common struggles for mouth breathers. Open mouth breathers often have a tongue thrust swallowing pattern, causing the tongue to thrust forward during talking and swallowing. Look for tongue tie or flared out teeth.

With all the breathing, development, and parafunctional habits like tongue thrusting, it is common that teeth stability and alignment will be compromised. Often, a traditional dentist will recommend braces to correct teeth. The problem here is that braces do not help treat the underlying cause, so patients continue to mouth breathe after orthodontic treatment, leading to relapse. Finding an airway dentist who is trained to treat more than “just teeth” is necessary.

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