Humans are inherently designed from birth to breathe through their noses.  Nasal breathing improves air by:

  • Filtering particles and allergens
  • Warming and humidifying it
  • Adding nitric oxide to improve oxygen
  • Balancing CO2 levels (it also helps to optimise blood oxygen levels, smooth muscle contraction and control breathing)

Mouth breathing occurs due to nasal obstructions such as:

  • Large adenoid tissue or tonsils
  • Nasal polyps
  • Enlarged turbinates (structures in the nasal passages that cleanse and humidify air)
  • Deviated septum
  • Weak nostril rims
  • Chronic congestion from allergies and allergens (Eg hayfever, dust mites, pets)

Mouth breathing should only happen occasionally when the nose is blocked.  It can become habit if the nose is chronically blocked or a person becomes comfortable breathing through his/her mouth.

Chronic mouth breathing can contribute to:

  • Poor facial and dental growth and development.  Correct tongue and lip muscle position help the facial skeleton develop to fit the teeth into the growing jaw. Children who breathe through their mouths develop longer, narrower faces and jaws. 
  • Low tongue position in the mouth.  The tongue contains a strong group of muscles.  When the mouth is open, the tongue sits on the floor of the mouth.  Constant contact with the palate and swallowing correctly help the facial and jaw bones to grow correctly.  Contact with the palate also stimulates nerves from the parasympathetic nervous system (‘rest and digest’) which controls digestion, breathing and heartbeat and promotes calmness and concentration. A hyperactive gag reflex can develop if contact is poor.     
  • Increased risk of dental diseases like gingivitis, periodontitis and tooth decay due to changes in oral microbiome and immune response.   
  • Poor sleep quality including snoring or loud breathing, restless sleep, nightmares/night terrors, bedwetting or waking to use the toilet.  Nose bleeds, dark under eye circles, dry mouth/throat, teeth grinding/wear and TMJ dysfunction also indicates poor sleep quality.
  • Increased risk of obstructive sleep apnoea, stroke, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, reflux and erectile dysfunction. Daytime fatigue, headaches,  irritability and mood disorder, anxiety and depression.
  • Increased risk of respiratory infection, hayfever/allergies and asthma and poor asthma control. 
  • Lower levels of sporting stamina due to decreased uptake of oxygen into the bloodstream (nitric oxide and carbon dioxide balance).  Shallow or chest breathing rather than deep, slow diaphragmatic breathing. 
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