The Dangers of Mouth Breathing
Have you been told that you are a “mouth breather”?
Do you really understand what this means, and the harm it could be doing to your health?
There are many reasons for this including nasal obstructions, restricted rib movements or anxiety caused by social issues.From birth we are born to breathe naturally through our nose. You only need to reflect on a time you had a stuffy or blocked nose to experience the difficulty in sleeping well or getting a refreshing sleep. Headaches, tiredness and general weakness are often some symptoms we would have felt in the past.
Just how common are breathing disorders amongst Australians? According to the 2012 Australian Health Survey, an estimated 6.3 million people suffered from a chronic respiratory condition. Worse still was that there were over 13,000 deaths that year due to an acute or chronic respiratory condition!
The dangers of mouth breathing:
Just how bad is it to be a mouth-breather? One of the most notable researchers, a Cambridge physician, explained the negative health effects of mouth-breathing this way:
“Cortical inhibition, emotional instability, generalised body tension and a chronic inability to relax … proneness to tetany (spasm) in muscles involved in “attack posture” – they hunch their shoulders, thrust head and neck forward, scowl and clench their teeth” (Lum 1994)
Mouth breathing increases the carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in the body and limits oxygen supply to the vital organs. In a vain attempt to restore normal CO2 levels to the body, our blood vessels constrict, decreasing blood flow. This further hinders our oxygen-carrying red blood cells from reaching our tissues.
A reduction in blood flow to various parts of our body can induce the frightening array of symptoms mentioned above.
Causes of Mouth Breathing
So how is it best to treat people suffering with chronic mouth breathing? Whilst there are many causes, here are 3 main causes:
1) Physical obstructions – Identify anything that prevents nasal breathing such as enlarged tonsils, adenoids, deviated nasal septum and polyps, or narrow jaws..
2) Postural assessment – Do you suffer with a compromised posture or weak abdominal muscles that encourages mouth breathing?
3) Anxiety assessment – You’ve heard the phrase, “take a breath in and sit down!”. Chronic anxiety, however, will alter your breathing permanently until it is managed and treated!
Treatment for Mouth Breathers
Breathing issues need to be properly managed 24 hours a day for them to be truly effective. Buteyko, Pilates, and nose breathing exercises can assist with breathing retraining whilst you are awake. Of higher importance is the breathing we do while asleep. You are asleep one-third of your life and if a proper airway is not maintained then no amount of “cognitive” retraining will help!
From a personal dental perspective, I can share with you the life changing impact that a widened upper jaw can make on health. Our patients are able to breathe significantly better through a dental service called dental orthopaedics.
I am currently undergoing treatment to widen my upper and lower jaw to correct my bite and I can tell you it has made a huge difference to the quality of my life and my sleep.
Many patients have reported they breathe much better both at night and during the day, their headaches are relieved, concentration is improved and they are in a better mood in the mornings (i.e.. Less grumpy!).
To book a jaw and airway assessment call us today and the team at Evolve will be happy to help.