Take a moment to notice your breathing. Is your mouth or nose doing the work? This matters more than you think.
Breathing through your mouth is a health problem. It’s seen in people of all ages, but it’s most common in pre-school aged children. And since they’re still growing, it can even mess with physical development.1
If you’re wondering why nasal breathing is better, check out these seven problems caused by mouth breathing.
7 Problems Caused By Mouth Breathing
1. Dry Mouth
Dry mouth or xerostomia is a common consequence of mouth breathing. It might even be one of the first things you notice!
Breathing through your mouth dries up the saliva. Your lips and mouth will become parched, causing a weird burning sensation. Even your sense of taste may change.
The best remedy is breathing through your nose. Drinking lots of water and staying hydrated are also the keys. Avoid licking your lips and use a lip balm to add back moisture.
2. Mouth Infections
Dry mouth can snowball into other problems. You’ll have a higher risk for infections like gingivitis and oral thrush.2 These disorders will make eating, talking, and brushing your teeth super uncomfortable.
It’s all thanks to the lack of saliva. Typically, saliva keeps harmful germs under control. But if you breathe through your mouth, there won’t be enough to do the job.
3. Tooth Decay
Cavities are never fun, but dryness from mouth breathing can bring them on.
When we eat food, the bacteria in our mouth feeds on the sugar. This produces an acid that can erode our teeth. However, saliva is in charge of neutralizing that acid and preventing cavities. Without sufficient saliva, tooth decay is a bite away.3
4. Bad Breath
For the sake of stopping bad breath, it’s always better to breathe through your nose.
The dryness from mouth breathing makes it easy for smelly bacteria to grow. Food particles will also hang around, since saliva can’t wash them away.4 The self-cleaning abilities of saliva will also significantly decrease.5
5. Tense Jaw Muscles
Mouth breathing is stressful for your jaw. It also throws off the balance of lip, tongue, and cheek muscles. In growing children, this can actually cause problems with facial development. People of all ages will feel chronic muscle tension, so it’s important to stop mouth breathing.6
6. Poor Chewing Ability
Muscle problems will also make it hard to eat. It’ll take longer to chew food, increasing the need for more bites. The posterior teeth, which are located in the back of your mouth, will struggle to work properly.7
7. Sleep Apnea
If mouth breathing continues at night, obstructive sleep apnea is likely. The upper airway will have a difficult time lengthening and collapsing properly. Breathing will abruptly stop and start, causing sleep disturbances.10
And when you frequently wake up? Grogginess, exhaustion, and poor daytime functioning are likely.11
As you can see, it’s better to breathe through your nose. Your overall health depends on it! If you can’t kick the habit on your own, consult a sleep doctor for help.
|↑1||Izu, Suemy Cioffi, Caroline Harumi Itamoto, Márcia Pradella-Hallinan, Gilberto Ulson Pizarro, Sérgio Tufik, Shirley Pignatari, and Reginaldo Raimundo Fujita. “Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS) in mouth breathing children.” Brazilian journal of otorhinolaryngology 76, no. 5 (2010): 552-556.|
|↑2||Dry Mouth (Xerostomia). National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.|
|↑3||Dry Mouth? Don’t Delay Treatment. U.S. Food & Drug Administration.|
|↑4||What Is Halitosis? Know Your Teeth, Academy of General Dentistry.|
|↑5||Motta, Lara Jansiski, Joanna Carolina Bachiega, Carolina Cardoso Guedes, Lorena Tristão Laranja, and Sandra Kalil Bussadori. “Association between halitosis and mouth breathing in children.” Clinics 66, no. 6 (2011): 939-942.|
|↑6||Al Ali, Ala, Stephen Richmond, Hashmat Popat, Rebecca Playle, Timothy Pickles, Alexei I. Zhurov, David Marshall, Paul L. Rosin, John Henderson, and Karen Bonuck. “The influence of snoring, mouth breathing and apnea on facial morphology in late childhood: a three-dimensional study.” BMJ open 5, no. 9 (2015): e009027.|
|↑7||Ikenaga, N., K. Yamaguchi, and S. Daimon. “Effect of mouth breathing on masticatory muscle activity during chewing food.” Journal of oral rehabilitation 40, no. 6 (2013): 429-435.|
|↑8||Wang, M. W., H. F. Li, Q. R. Wang, H. Xu, and J. N. He. “Relationship between abnormal swallowing and mouth breathing.” Zhonghua kou qiang yi xue za zhi= Zhonghua kouqiang yixue zazhi= Chinese journal of stomatology 48, no. 12 (2013): 750-751.|
|↑9||Belching, Bloating, and Flatulence. American College of Gastroenterology.|
|↑10||Kim, Eun Joong, Ji Ho Choi, Kang Woo Kim, Tae Hoon Kim, Sang Hag Lee, Heung Man Lee, Chol Shin, Ki Yeol Lee, and Seung Hoon Lee. “The impacts of open-mouth breathing on upper airway space in obstructive sleep apnea: 3-D MDCT analysis.” European Archives of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology 268, no. 4 (2011): 533-539.|
|↑11||Surtel, A., R. Klepacz, and J. Wysokińska-Miszczuk. “The influence of breathing mode on the oral cavity.” Polski merkuriusz lekarski: organ Polskiego Towarzystwa Lekarskiego 39, no. 234 (2015): 405-407.|