Our mouth is made for eating, drinking and speaking. Our nose is made for breathing!
When we can't get enough oxygen through our nose it can lead to mouth breathing out of necessity.
It is normal for us to breathe through our mouth during certain times, like when we have a cold or are preforming heavy exercise, but this is a backup method of breathing and if it continues long-term it can lead to bigger health issues.
Common Causes of Mouth Breathing:
Chronic nasal congestion
Food sensitivities or allergies
Enlarged tonsils and adenoids
Signs of Airway Issues:
Dark circles under eyes
Frequent ear infections
Why Does it matter?
Mouth breathing leads to the tongue resting lower in the mouth. Low tongue posture leads to an abnormal swallowing pattern also known as a tongue thrust.
Mouth breathing can cause changes to the development of the face and jaws. This can lead to long, narrow facial appearance, gummy smiles and crooked teeth.
Mouth breathing leads to other health concerns like high blood pressure, sleep apnea, digestive issues, ADD/ADHD symptoms, bad breath, gum disease, cavities, postural changes, enlarged tonsils and adenoids.
Using Your Nose
We were designed to breathe through our noses for optimal health. As we breathe in our nose filters, warms and moistens the air. When we mouth breathe we are in a constant state of over-breathing throwing off the balance of oxygen/carbon dioxide and leaving us in a sympathetic state (think "fight or flight") that can put our bodies in a constant stress mode.
While it sounds simple to correct...just close your mouth! Breaking the habit is actually not that easy for most people, they need to retrain their muscles to function normally, which takes practice. Myofunctional therapy can help people achieve this habit change and improve their overall quality of life.