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  • Writer's pictureLaura Barlow

How Does Mouth-Breathing Impact My Health?

Not everyone breathes properly. Recent research indicates that the way a person breathes can have a great impact on his or her future health and physical appearance. Breathing which supports healthy physiological function occurs when air passes through the nose, but many people find nasal breathing difficult and must breathe through their mouths.

When a person breathes through his or her mouth, it circumvents nature's filtering apparatus and places greater strain on the heart and lungs, due to the presence of minute impurities in the air. Nasal breathing promotes healthy air filtration, humidification and warming. Consequently, mouth-breathing has been associated with a greater incidence of enlarged hearts, fluid in the lungs, heart failure and the recommendation to remove the tonsils and adenoids because the lymph tissues and lungs have now been recruited to do the work of the nasal passage. When your body’s lymph tissue are removed and mouth-breathing habits continue, your body’s first line of defense is lost and it can have lasting impacts on your body’s health. The incidence of systemic inflammatory diseases, acid reflux and allergic reactions increase dramatically. Furthermore, people who consistently breathe through their mouths are at a higher risk for dental cavities and periodontal disease because when the mouth dries out the oral tissues become inflamed, they are no longer lubricated by the beneficial components of saliva and bacteria multiply rapidly. These inflammatory diseases will have difficulty resolving if the source of the problem is not addressed.

Mouth-breathing is generally caused by one or more of the following:

● Low tongue position

  • The tongue should remain on the roof of the mouth to open the airway and support the jaw

  • If the tongue is down and flacid it can block the airway, reduce proper lip seal, increase teeth grinding and promote mouth-breathing because the body will look for the path of least resistance and open the mouth in desperation for air, especially while asleep

● Current or past nasal congestion, allergies, swollen tissue, or other obstructions such as polyps

  • Congestion can often set the stage for a dysfunctional breathing habit to occur

  • Many people experience a decrease in nasal resistance when they restore a nasal breathing preference (noses are use it or lose it)

  • Enlarged adenoids and or tonsils/Underdeveloped nasal passages

  • Lymph tissues often decrease in size once nasal breathing and properly functioning orofacial muscles have been restored, reducing the need for surgical removal

  • Healthy respiratory function (ie CO2/O2 balance) does not require a large nasal passageway, many patients who focus on learning how to develop healthy breathing behavior habits (mechanically and physiologically) find they can avoid invasive ENT surgeries, dental appliances and CPAP use

● Small jaw, compromised airway, removal of teeth for orthodontics/Sleep Apnea/UARS

  • Teeth wear, grinding, clenching, and bed wetting can be a sign of behavior. When a person is trying to open their airway while they sleep the body’s survival mechanisms kick in.

  • The body is left in a constant state of “fight or flight” compromising the ability to heal and rest

  • Cortisol remains high, anxiety, irritability and fatigue increase, and pain tolerance is decreased

Breathe effortlessly. Be well.

Laura Barlow, CBBA, CSOM, INHC

Breathe Colorado

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