Mouth Breathing: Why Is It So Bad?

When you have a stuffy nose, are feeling sick, are experiencing allergies, or are in the middle of a strenuous workout, you likely have caught yourself breathing through your mouth. These are all normal and necessary reasons to be breathing through your mouth in order to get oxygen to your lungs faster when there’s an obstruction, or your body is working on overdrive. However, it should not be a regular occurrence or your body’s default way of breathing. There are many reasons why mouth breathing can be bad for you, and luckily, there is something you can do about it. Keep reading to learn more about why mouth breathing is bad, what it can lead to, and how you can get treatment for mouth breathing.

Why Mouth Breathing is Bad

You are breathing air into your lungs, so what is the big deal if it comes in through your nose or your mouth? There are several reasons why mouth breathing is bad, including that it can lead to health issues, can lead to physical abnormalities, and it can be a sign of sleep apnea—a serious health condition.

There are several differences between breathing through your mouth instead of through your nose:

  • When you breathe through your nose, tiny hairs called cilia filter out debris like allergens, pollution, and even small insects. Your mouth doesn’t offer that protection.
  • Your lungs and throat function better with moist air. Your nose has bony structures called turbinates that handle that task. The air you take in through your mouth is drier.
  • Likewise, your throat and lungs thrive on warm air. When you breathe in through your nose, the air you take in gradually warms up until it’s closer to body temperature, making it easy for your tissues to absorb.

Can Lead to Health Problems

Since the nose acts like a filter for the body, breathing through your mouth allows toxins into your body and bloodstream. This can lead to many issues, such as:

  • Bad breath
  • Gingivitis
  • Tooth cavities
  • Dental issues
  • Throat infections
  • Ear infections
  • Cardiovascular issues
  • Obesity

Mouth breathing biases your body towards a sympathetic state, whereas nasal breathing activates the parasympathetic response. If the body is stuck in this state due to chronic stress and breathing dysfunction, it won’t effectively rebuild tissue after a workout. This can quickly lead to obesity, no matter how often you seem to work out or eat healthily.

Can Lead to Physical Abnormalities

Breathing through the mouth, especially as a child, can lead to many physical abnormalities and change the way your face looks. Some of the changes that can happen to the face include:

  • Poor posture
  • Large overbite
  • Crowded teeth
  • Gummy smile
  • Narrow mouth
  • Long, narrow face

You May Have Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a common condition in which your breathing stops and restarts many times while you sleep. This can prevent your body from getting enough oxygen. Obstructive sleep apnea happens when your upper airway becomes blocked many times while you sleep, reducing or completely stopping airflow. This is the most common type of sleep apnea. Anything that could narrow your airway, such as obesity, large tonsils, or changes in your hormone levels, can increase your risk for obstructive sleep apnea.

One of the hallmark symptoms of sleep apnea is snoring. Snoring happens when you breathe through your mouth instead of your nose. If you are a mouth breather during the day, chances are, you are snoring at night, as well.

Sleep apnea is a serious condition that requires sleep apnea treatment. Untreated sleep apnea can lead to many health issues, including:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Heart disease

How Do I Know if I Am Mouth Breathing?

Do you catch yourself mouth breathing every once in a while? Wondering if you’re doing it at night, as well? It is almost impossible to know you’re a mouth-breather at night unless you have a partner or roommate who brings it to your attention. Luckily, there are plenty of other ways to learn you are a mouth breather by taking note of the following symptoms:

  • Snoring at night
  • Increased irritability
  • Chronic daytime sleepiness and fatigue
  • Constant brain fog
  • Waking up with a dry mouth
  • Bad breath
  • Throat feeling hoarse
  • Waking up tired
  • Difficulty concentrating or focusing
  • Requiring a nap during the day
  • Dark circles under the eyes

Additional symptoms that are present in children include:

  • Growing at a slower pace than normal
  • Crying episodes at night
  • Large tonsils
  • Dry, cracked lips
  • Irritability
  • Issues with concentrating at school, often mistaken as ADHD
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness

What Causes Mouth Breathing?

One of the most important factors to understand while getting treatment for mouth breathing is to know your root cause. While all mouth breathing can be treated by a CPAP machine, this method of treatment does not fix the actual problem. With a CPAP machine, you are able to receive pressurized oxygen that opens your obstructed airways, allowing you to have deeper, restorative sleep. However, it is just a bandaid that does not help the obstruction at its root cause.

Some of the root causes of mouth breathing include:

  • Nasal congestion from allergies or a cold
  • Sinus infection
  • Enlarged adenoids
  • Enlarged tonsils
  • Enlarged turbinates
  • Deviated septum
  • Nasal polyps
  • Natural anatomy of the face, such as the shape and size of the nose or jaw

What to Do About Mouth Breathing

Luckily, treatment for mouth breathing is available. When you are able to successfully treat your mouth breathing, you are at far less risk for health issues and complications. You will be able to feel better during the day, get out of the brain fog you live in, and finally get restorative sleep at night.

Some things you can do about mouth breathing include:

  • Treat allergies. If you have chronic nasal congestion due to allergies, it is time to see an allergist. Treat your allergies and learn how to keep nasal congestion at bay so that you can sleep properly and give your body the rest it needs.
  • Keep clean and use air purifiers. Keep your home free of dust and allergens by keeping it clean, dusting frequently, and vacuuming or mopping regularly. Using air purifiers is also a great way to keep the air clean to help your lungs.
  • Treat the obstruction. Whether you have enlarged tonsils, a misaligned jaw, or suffer from nasal polyps, you can treat your mouth breathing by getting rid of your obstruction and treating the root cause. The experts at our clinic can help you with treatment for mouth breathing.

Mouth Breathing Help from Gorman Health and Wellness

Dr. Gorman is a part of the breathing wellness movement, which aims to increase awareness and improve treatment for sleep-related airway conditions like sleep apnea. He has partnered with organizations focused on collaborating with dentists to apply the sciences of Craniofacial Epigenetics (the study of cranial modifications caused by gene expression as opposed to genetic code alteration) and Pneumopedics® (the practical application of oral appliance therapy and non-surgical airway remodeling) in the management of sleep apnea.

Together, the application of these sciences allows for underlying causes of airway obstruction to be treated in 98% of cases, resulting in a high success rate among sleep apnea patients. For every sleep apnea case at our practice, Dr. Gorman will gather patient data and determine the patient’s specific needs based on home sleep test results, dental impressions, CT scans, and images. Our state-of-the-art technology, paired with Dr. Gorman’s experience with sleep disorders, allows him to find the most effective treatment plan for each individual’s particular case, yielding improved daytime and nighttime breathing for the patient.

“I have been helping people suffering from Sleep Apnea with a non-invasive, clinically approved treatment method. This method has allowed my patients to sleep with far fewer events per hour, allowing them to get rid of their CPAP and BiPAP machines. Imagine not having to use one of those machines, getting back a much greater quality of life along with the benefits of being able to breathe better.” – Dr. Gorman.

For more information on Dr. Gorman, how to treat the root cause of your mouth breathing, decrease your chances for sleep apnea, and finally get the restorative sleep you need, contact us today.

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