…breathe through your nose: Part I

A harsh title to draw your attention to a very important topic…breathing. We all know that breathing is fundamental to our existence but did you know that breathing properly can impact everything from your mood to your overall health? As a dentist, I evaluate airways, teeth and tongues all day long. These three elements can shed light on how a patient is breathing both during sleeping and waking hours. In Part I, the focus of my newsletter will be on adult nasal breathing benefits. Part II will focus on signs and symptoms of sleep disordered breathing in adults. And in Part III, attention will be directed to children and their airways
As humans we have two routes to consume oxygen into our lungs, the mouth and the nose, carrying out the vital task of keeping us alive. Did you know that one route is strongly preferred over the other? Nasal breathing is the optimal path to begin the oxygen gaseous exchange process. Breathing through our nose helps to warm and humidify the air we breathe. Our nose is also capable of filtering which helps to prevent pollutants and particles from entering the lung tissues. Finally, nasal breathing encourages the production of nitric oxide which can help to sterilize the air (think killing viruses and bacteria), encourages vasodilation and reduces inflammation.

When people use their mouths as their primary breathing route the benefits listed above are missed and other side effects can arise. Oral indications of a mouth breather are dry mouth, enlarged tonsils, inflamed/swollen gums, bad breath and tooth decay. Other clinical indications of someone who may be primarily breathing through their mouth is fatigue, chronic respiratory illnesses, allergies, anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, diabetes and the list goes on. If you have chronic nasal obstruction that prevents you from comfortably breathing through your nose, please see your medical provider to discuss how you can improve your ability to breathe properly.

If you’re someone who can breathe through your nose but don’t, consider some simple exercises to practice mindfulness and try to kick the habit of mouth breathing:

  • Remind yourself when reading, driving, watching TV, etc to breathe through your nose, breathe through your nose, breathe through your nose.
  • Practice intentional breathing exercises: gently press the tip of your tongue into the roof of your mouth (just behind your front teeth), lightly bring your lips together and relax your jaw so your teeth are not together. Breathe in and out slowly and deeply through your nose using a count of 3 for each inhalation and exhalation.
  • Tape your mouth shut! This is where it gets fun 🙂 and where we have had many laughs discussing the benefit of this with patients. No, it’s not OK to tell your spouse to leave the tape on all day! Mouth taping can be done during waking hours in an effort to train you to breathe through your nose without having to think about it constantly. The technique of mouth taping has become a popular way for some to combat snoring at night. I stress….SOME (this is not for everyone) and we will be happy to discuss this with you further at your next visit. Here is what we are handing out as samples for those who may safely benefit. Here is a video to learn a little more.

Mouth Tape

It is both an honor and pleasure to be entrusted with your care. As your dentist, I take a passionate interest in both your dental and overall health. Breathing is vital to life. Breathing properly is crucial to a healthy mouth, a healthy body and a healthy mind. I hope that you will enjoy this newsletter series on a basic daily function that many of us take for granted.