Face masks and face shields can make it difficult for most of us to breathe comfortably. In our effort to get more air, some of us are unconsciously becoming mouth breathers. While it is a sigh of relief, breathing through your mouth puts you at risk for dental and medical conditions.
What is mouth breathing?
Mouth breathing is an act or behavior where you prefer to breathe through your mouth instead of your nose. It usually occurs when there is an obstruction in your nose or when you are trying to gasp for more air.
Some patients are also prone to mouth breathing when they sleep with an open mouth. Chronic mouth breathing bypasses the natural filtering dynamic of our bodies using our noses and opens up our bodies to viral infections and diseases.
How does mouth breathing put you at a higher risk for COVID-19?
The eyes, mouth, and nose are the main points of transmission of COVID-19. The air we inhale through our mouths directly gets to the lungs without the filtering done by our noses. Therefore, chronic mouth breathing exposes your mouth to the COVID virus and provides it with a quick route to attack your respiratory system.
On the other hand, when we breathe through our noses, our bodies produce nitric oxide that travels to the lungs along with the oxygen we breathe. Nitric oxide has anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal properties that can also help fight diseases like COVID-19. It can block the replication of the COVID-19 virus in the lungs which prevents its severe complications.
So aside from wearing a mask, remember to also breathe through your nose to protect yourself against the contagious virus we have at hand.
Negative effects of being a mouth breather
Chronic mouth breathing is the hallmark of several oral and medical conditions, including:
- Dry mouth: Breathing through your mouth dries up your saliva and makes the saliva production inadequate to keep your mouth moist. Saliva serves as a protective barrier of your teeth, tongue, and gums against disease-causing bacteria. A dry mouth can speed up the progression of tooth decay and puts you at risk for gum disease or tongue problems.
- Developmental problems in children: Chronic mouth breathing can affect the jaw development of children and cause overcrowded teeth. It can also alter their facial structure during their formative years, leading to respiratory problems, long-face syndrome, and respiratory obstruction like sleep apnea.
- Sleeping problems and their consequences: Sleep-disordered breathing can disrupt your optimal sleeping pattern. Without quality sleep, you will experience fatigue, lightheadedness, and other complications due to sleep deprivation.
- A potential risk for sleep apnea: If mouth breathing is left untreated, your facial muscles and jawbones will adapt to your distorted posture and obstruct your airways causing obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Sleep apnea is a usual effect of breathing through your mouth while sleeping, which can be life-threatening.
- Bad breath: The disease-causing bacteria thrive when your mouth is dry. If you have a dry mouth due to mouth breathing, bacteria can propagate rapidly in your mouth and cause halitosis or bad breath.
- Higher risk for viral infection and diseases: Being a mouth breather makes you an easy target of viral infection and diseases. The unfiltered air that you inhale comes with a ton of microscopic microbes that can make you more prone to illnesses than others.
Causes of mouth breathing
Usually, chronic mouth breathing is caused by an unconscious behavior whenever we feel the need for an extra gasp of air. However, it can also be due to the following causes:
- The shape of the nose
- Nasal congestion due to allergies, sinus problems, or colds
- Jaw structure
- Enlarged tonsils
- Other conditions like sleep apnea
How to know if you are a mouth breather
To know if you are a chronic mouth breather, check if you are experiencing most of the following symptoms:
- Waking up feeling tired and moody(due to sleep deprivation)
- Chronic fatigue
- Brain fog
- Constant snoring
- Dry mouth
- Bad breath (halitosis)
- Hoarse voice
- Rapid progression of tooth decay
Advantages of nose breathing and nitric oxide
The nose is designed to filter microbes and dust in the air. It also enhances the body’s ability to absorb oxygen. Nasal breathing hides a powerful medical benefit in producing nitric oxide. since it helps:
- Directly deliver oxygen to the lungs.
- Filter and enhance oxygen absorption of our body
- Fight bacterial and viral infections
Nose breathing prevents the distortion of your facial and oral structure. It also ensures that the air you breathe is filtered and free from any microbes that can make you sick. Aside from the medical benefits, you will also prevent the negative impact of being a mouth breather on your oral health.
Are you a mouth breather? Visit your Uptown Charlotte dentist today!
Nothing good comes from breathing through your mouth. So, it is best to train yourself to breathe through your nose, even behind your face mask. Doing so can save you from the perils of medical and oral conditions and expensive medical costs.
If you have been a chronic mouth breather for quite a while, you must consult your dentist immediately. Genesis Family Dentistry provides preventive and restorative dental services in Uptown Charlotte near Plaza Midwood.