We’ve all heard the insult “mouth breather” (especially from Stranger Things), but is breathing through your nose instead of your mouth actually beneficial to your overall oral health?
Our nasal passages are created to humidify, clean and warm the incoming flow of air due to the layers of protective mucus. This thin layer of mucus can trap about 98-99 percent of bacteria, viruses, dust particles, and other airborne objects, so inhaling through the nose the body’s most natural and preferred method for taking in the oxygen it needs.
What Is Mouth-breathing exactly?
Though mouth breathing happens for different reasons in adults and children, the culprit is usually a nasal obstruction. When we breathe normally through the nose, the air we take in is warmed and moistened before it gets to our lungs. If a person has difficulty breathing through the nose, however, he or she is forced to take in cold, dry air through the mouth.
One of the most common side effects of mouth breathing is an excessively dry mouth. Under normal conditions, saliva continuously washes bacteria from the mouth. If your mouth is dry, however, that bacteria can more readily take hold and cause problems like cavities.
Mouth breathing can also cause sleep difficulties, causing people to wake in the night if they aren’t getting enough oxygen. In children, lack of sleep may reduce their ability to pay attention and concentrate at school.
What if I’m guilty of Mouth-breathing?
Mouth breathers often have chronically red and inflamed gums, even if their oral health is otherwise good. Adults may also find they have bleeding gums, or may get frequent cavities. A thorough dental exam will help determine whether mouth breathing has an underlying medical cause. It’s also important for parents to look for signs of mouth breathing in children, so the problem can be corrected before it worsens.
As always, ask your dentist!😄