Without realizing, some people breathe through their mouth rather than their nose, which is a condition that can leave them feeling really thirsty after a night’s sleep. Breathing through your mouth causes it to dry out as the amount of saliva produced is reduced. You can get a range of symptoms from breathing through your mouth and they are not known to be pleasant.
Mouth Breathing Effects
Breathing through your mouth is an improper way of breathing and is a condition that can cause a range of unhealthy symptoms, including facial growth, dry mouth and sleep difficulties.
1. Deformed Facial Growth
The majority of our bodily growth comes through our genetics. Research in a number of European countries, the USA and Canada, however, has highlighted that changes to facial growth are directly linked to breathing through the mouth, which is seen as abnormal and unhealthy.
This issue is common in children or those who are still in the stages of growth. Studies found that if they breathe through mouth, their face will adapt, causing the deformity. As the body is not used to taking in oxygen through mouth, the muscles within the face such as the jaw, tongue and neck will alter to accommodate this and will then deform the bones they are surrounding. The upper lip is naturally raised and the tongue drops to the bottom of the mouth to allow the oxygen to enter the body, causing the mouth area to look deformed.
2. Dry Mouth
Under normal circumstances saliva is generated in the mouth to help get rid of any bacteria, keeping you healthy day and night. If you breathe through your mouth during the day you are still able to control the levels of saliva. However when you’re asleep, you don’t have any control, which leads to the soft tissues in your mouth drying out. This can lead to your throat becoming dry and itchy, your mouth becoming extremely red and sore and it may even cause bleeding gums.
3. Poor Sleep
Mouth breathing effects also include sleep difficulties due to the lack of oxygen getting into the lungs. When you are sleeping you may find yourself constantly waking due to lack of oxygen, which then leads to exhaustion and lack of concentration, causing a knock on effect for both adults and children in the next day.
4. Other Health Conditions
- Not only does mouth breathing cause issues such as facial changes, dry mouth and sleep disturbances, but it can also lead to ear infections, airway infections, inflamed sinuses and snoring issues.
- The lack of oxygen into the lungs can cause huge problems for adults, leading to high blood pressure and heart problems.
- Other mouth breathing effects include headaches, poor posture (as mouth breathers tend to slump forward to open the airways), gum disease, bad breath and cold and flu like symptoms.
Causes of Mouth Breathing
There are a number of different causes of mouth breathing, including the habit of sucking your thumb, or a misalignment in the jaw that stops the lips from closing. Other causes include:
1. Nasal Obstruction
One of the main causes of mouth breathing is a blocked nasal, which then forces oxygen to go in through the mouth. This air is cold and dry, which is what causes the mouth breathing effects as shown above.
These nasal obstructions can be caused by:
- Nasal congestion
- Breathing infection
- Inflamed tonsils
2. Birth Defects
Birth defects could also be the cause of mouth breathing, as deformities within the bone structure or an issue like a deviated septum could make it difficult to breathe through the nose, forcing someone to lean forward and breathe through the mouth.
3. Effects of Medication or Treatment
Medication or treatments such as chemotherapy can also lead to mouth breathing, causing an individual to have an extremely dry mouth and in some cases the feeling of burning in the throat. This is known as xerostomia.
How to Stop Mouth Breathing
1. Get Rid of Allergens
Keep your house clean and dust free by using hot water to clean your sheets and removing any rugs or dusty things from your bedroom or main living space. This will help to reduce allergies and help your nasal passages stay clear.
2. Raise Your Head
Keep your head elevated to help your nasal passages clear, allowing oxygen to travel through them instead of your mouth. This can reduce the risk of mouth breathing and negative mouth breathing effects by 5-10 times.
3. Exercise Often
Cardio is great for improving your lungs and heart, which can help make you stronger and your breathing better. Other exercise like yoga is also great for your breathing patterns and will help you concentrate on breathing through your nose.
4. Retrain Your Breathing
Your mouth and the bone structure in your face adjust itself to help you take in oxygen if you’re a mouth breather. By spending your time focusing on breathing through your nose when you’re awake, you may be able to tell your body to go back to breathing normally when you’re asleep. Similar to yoga, this takes time and patience.
5. Use a Chin Strap
A chin strap forces your mouth shut at night, making you breathe through your nose. Another option that is also over-the-counter is a nasal spray that could help you with any congestion problems, allowing you to breathe through your nose.
6. Seek Myofunctional Therapist Support
A myofunctional therapist can help you gain control over your breathing and your facial muscles, which also help solve some of other issues caused by mouth breathing, such as swallowing, dental health and speech.