If you suffer from allergies or have ever had a cold, chances are you’ve had to take air through your mouth while your nasal passages were stopped up. While it’s fine to breathe like this when you have to – you have two air passageways for a reason, after all – doing it all the time could actually lead to gum disease and other serious health issues. Here’s why mouth breathing is a bigger problem than you think!
What’s the Difference Between Nose Breathing and Mouth Breathing?
Normal breathing is done through the nose. This is because the nose can produce nitric oxide, a colorless gas that makes it easier for oxygen to be absorbed by the lungs and transported throughout the body (including to the heart). Furthermore, your nose acts as a filter to prevent small particles from entering your lungs, and it warms up cold air to match your body’s temperature. You don’t receive any of these benefits when breathing through your mouth.
What are the Dangers of Mouth Breathing?
Your mouth will become very dry if air is constantly passing through it. That means there’s less saliva to wash away the bacteria that cause gum disease and tooth cavities. In other words, if you constantly breathe through your mouth, there’s a higher chance that you’ll need to see your dentist in the near future. You’re also likely to have bad breath or develop an infection in your throat.
As for the effects on the rest of your body, the lack of nitric oxide will lead to lower oxygen concentration in the blood, which is associated with heart failure. Your lungs won’t function as well, and if you have asthma, your symptoms will get worse.
Chronic mouth breathing can be especially harmful for children who are still developing. Researchers believe that it can result in a long, narrow face; it might also create orthodontic problems like overbite and crowded teeth.
How Will You Know If You’re Mouth Breathing?
Many people breathe through their mouths while they’re asleep without even realizing it. Sometimes your partner will know there’s a problem if they’re frequently woken up by loud snoring. Otherwise, if you keep waking up with a dry mouth, bad breath and hoarseness, or if you feel tired and suffer from brain fog throughout the day, you may want to make an appointment with your dentist to see if they can diagnose the problem.
How Is Mouth Breathing Treated?
There are a few different causes for mouth breathing, so naturally there’s also a few different options for treatment. If the root problem is nasal congestion, antihistamines, nasal sprays and other types of medication can help. On the other hand, if mouth breathing is a side effect of a disorder like sleep apnea, you might need a special kind of treatment like an oral appliance.
Whatever the cause, it’s important to have mouth breathing diagnosed and treated quickly so that your body doesn’t suffer from too much long-term damage. Once you’re able to breathe normally again, it’ll be much easier to protect your smile and get a good night’s sleep.
About the Author
Dr. Matthew Nawrocki always strives to bring his patients the highest standards of care possible at his practice in Orange Park. He’s highly skilled in both treating and preventing cavities and gum disease; he can also help patients suffering from sleep apnea with oral appliance therapy. If you think you might be breathing through your mouth, make an appointment by visiting his website or calling (904) 272-1588.