Take a moment right now to pay attention to the way your breathe. Are you inhaling or exhaling through your mouth? If so, you're breathing incorrectly and you could be setting yourself up for all kinds of dental problems.
Why Do You Breathe Through Your Mouth Instead Of Your Nose?
Any medical condition which interferes with the nasal passage can cause a person to breathe through their mouth. Among them are allergies, nasal congestion, enlarged tonsils, and respiratory infections. In children, thumb sucking can also play a role. Oftentimes, the initial cause of mouth-breathing is a temporary condition, but the affected person gets used to breathing through their mouth and continues the bad habit long after their condition has improved.
How Can Mouth-Breathing Affect Your Teeth?
Saliva is extremely important to your dental well-being because it works to wash away food debris, reduce the acid levels in your mouth, and fight against harmful bacteria. When air is constantly passing back and forth through your mouth, your saliva can dry up, leaving you far more susceptible to tooth decay and gingivitis.
To worsen things, since there is not enough saliva to balance out the good and bad bacteria, halitosis (bad breath) is a common problem for mouth breathers.
Mouth-breathing also changes the way a person's tongue works. A thrust is developed in which the tongue repeatedly pushes forward against the teeth. Over time, this tongue thrust can push the teeth forward, making them crooked or creating an overbite.
Your nose, on the other hand, is built to refine the air you inhale and get it all warm and ready for your body to use.
How Can You Work On Breathing Through Your Nose Instead Of Your Mouth?
While it may seem impossible at first, there are steps you can take to reestablish a correct breathing pattern.
Keep Your Home Allergen Free - Vacuum regularly and remove any dust-collecting objects such as old rugs from your home. Change your sheets weekly; you spend long periods of time in your bed, and if you have a pet that sleeps with you, it may be time to get it its own bed.
Keep Your Nasal Passage Clear - You can't breathe through your nose if it's clogged or congested. Consider using an over-the-counter saline spray or a netti pot to keep your nasal passage clear. Purchase some nasal strips to wear while you sleep. These strips hold the nostrils open slightly, encouraging a clear nasal passage.
Practice, Practice, Practice - Set various times throughout the day when you can practice breathing exercises. You should aim for 10-20 minutes of practice a day, but you can break that up into intervals as small as a minute every hour.
Find a comfortable resting spot, and inhale deeply through your nose for a count of 3. Without pausing, exhale for another count of 3. Repeat these steps throughout the duration of your practice time.
Visit A Myofunctional Therapist - If you've tried the above tactics and are still routinely breathing through your mouth, consider contacting a myofunctional therapist. These specialists offer orofacial therapy, which is a branch of therapy dedicated to correcting problems with the tongue and facial muscles. The goal of a myofunctional therapist is to retrain the muscles so that a person can again feel natural breathing through their nose.
There's a right way to breathe, and if you aren't breathing right, you're increasing your chances of contracting serious dental issues. If you're a mouth-breather, use the above tips to relearn how to breathe correctly, and visit your dentist regularly to catch any possible dental conditions in their early stages. Click here for more info.