Dental Health Info Article

Breathe Through Your Nose to Save Your Smile:

Once humans are born, breathing (the act of taking in oxygen to the lungs and releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere) immediately kicks into gear. The process is a self-regulating reflex that either occurs via the nose or the mouth in order to fuel the body and move blood via the circulatory system. Whenever possible, nose breathing is the best option as an excess of mouth breathing can contribute to a myriad of dental problems.

Nose breathing is the preferred method of oxygenation as the process as the sinus cavity will warm, moister and clean upon inhalation and prior to body absorption. On some occasions, conditions including sinus infections, allergies, colds and broken bones can make nose breathing impossible and in those cases mouth breathing is the automatic response. Mouth breathing will indeed keep a person alive when a nose won't work, however there are side effects associated with mouth breathing that may cause dental problems and damage teeth.

Dental Problems and Mouth Breathing

Humans have two ways to get the oxygen required to function, but when oxygen is primarily collected via the mouth, bodily functions including saliva production will slow-down and change; ultimately contributing to dental problems.

Saliva production is an essential mechanism for maintaining dental health. The liquid is composed of a mix featuring 98 percent water electrolytes, mucus, antibacterial agents and enzymes. Saliva is the body's natural defense for washing away trace elements of sugars and foods deposited on teeth during eating. If those items are not whisked away, oral bacteria will work on breaking down the compounds, and will create dental plaque and acid byproducts as a result of their handwork.

When nose breathing is utilized, a body's self regulating oral health system will stay intact. But when mouth breathing is the only option, saliva production will come to a complete halt. The temporary results can include a person's mouth breathing being viewed as less than socially acceptable, dry mouth and halitosis. The long-term effects are even more troublesome.

Mouth breathing can contribute to an oral imbalance caused by the placement of the tongue during breathing. With nose breathing, a tongue will naturally press up against the roof of a mouth. Mouth breathing forces the tongue muscle to lay at the bottom of the mouth. Overtime, that muscle movement will create relaxed cheek muscles, a narrowed upper jaw and crooked teeth (AKA malocclusion) that can only be corrected with dental braces.

Dry mouth, the most common condition associated with mouth breathing, will allow oral bacteria to flourish. As a result, individuals who primarily rely on mouth breathing can experience higher levels of tooth decay, gum disease and bad breath that can peel paint off of walls.

Mouth Breathing Cessation Tips

If mouth breathing is a short-term solution resulting from a nose related issue, there is no other choice. The fact is, even if someone holds their breath to stop breathing, they will pass out and the system will kick back into gear as a natural precaution. In these cases, individuals should not feel guilty about their need to get oxygen and should opt to keep a mouth moist by drinking water frequently as soda, juices and caffeinated beverages may end up exasperating dental problems).

For those individuals who find that they naturally favor mouth breathing over nose breathing, the conscious decision must be made to close the mouth and breath through the nose. Some tools that can help stimulate that activity include:

  • Nasal strips for sleeping as it will pry nasal passages wide open to encourage greater air flow.
  • For those who can breath normally through their noses, but have a feeling they switch to mouth breathing during slumber can choose to use surgical tape to shut their mouths during the night.
  • Taking over-the-counter medications to reduce sinus inflammation in regards to colds and allergies. Dry mouth is a common side effect of many of these medications, so hydration is key to minimizing potential dental woes.
  • If mucus, not inflamed sinuses, is the cause for mouth breathing, there are over-the-counter medications to help break up that compound. Staying well hydrated will also help loosen up the mucus and potentially help with nose breathing.

Dentists Help Mouth Breathers                                    

If home remedies are not enough to eradicate mouth breathing getting an option from a dentist or another type of medical care provider may be in order. A health professional can help pinpoint conditions such as a deviated septum or nasal polyps while a dentist can also deliver oral related diagnosis and dental treatments to assist in the task by prescribing orthodontics, custom made appliances or for referring patients to an ear, nose and throat specialist who can address issues not manageable via dentistry. Since dentists are the first line of defense for properly diagnosing and addressing chronic mouth breathing in both children and adults, individuals needing to find a dentist can call 1-800-DENTIST to get the ball rolling.