It’s not often that we take time to consider our breathing habits, considering it comes naturally. However, the one thing you may notice if you start to think about the way you breathe is whether you are a mouth breather or a nose breather. Now, why does this matter?
Mouth breathing can be a sign of certain problems and lead to dry mouth or other undesired effects. Nose breathing, on the other hand, has its benefits. So keep reading to learn more about the differences and how to stop your mouth-breathing habit.
Negative Effects of Mouth Breathing
When you think of breathing through your mouth, you may see nothing wrong with it initially. You are breathing after all– what’s the problem? Well, there are many effects that come with regular mouth breathing that you might want to avoid.
One of the simple and most common effects of breathing is a dry mouth. This reduces the saliva you produce in your mouth, which can result in bad breath, increased amounts of bacteria, and even infections in your teeth, throat, and ears.
Nose breathing allows your body to filter the air coming into your lungs, but mouth breathing does not have this ability. That said, mouth breathing can cause you to breathe in more bacteria, allergens, and more. Studies show that when your air is not being properly filtered due to mouth breathing, it can decrease your lung function and worsen symptoms in patients with lung problems or asthma.
Another possible effect of mouth breathing is the development of long face syndrome. This can lead to dental abnormalities, poor posture, and narrow face development.
Many people who are prone to mouth breathing may experience more sleep problems which can negatively affect function during the day. Poor sleep can lead to lower energy, decreased productivity, and increased levels of stress.
One study noted that there is a link between oral breathing and nasal obstruction in patients who suffer from sleep apnea. If you are known for your loud snoring, consider being mindful of how often you are breathing through your mouth over your nose.
The Benefits of Nose Breathing
There is plenty of science behind the benefits of nose breathing and it may surprise you to know how beneficial it can be for your health.
One of the most notable benefits of nasal breathing is the improved quality of oxygen coming into your body. When you breathe through your nose, the oxygen is essentially filtered by the hair in your nose.
This can help filter bacteria and allergens, which means that the oxygen entering your lungs is bound to be cleaner. Also, when you breathe through your nose it will lead to more production of nitric oxide, which will help open your airways and enhance the oxygen in your bloodstream.
Nasal breathing can also improve your athletic performance by leading to a rise in CO2 levels before you exhale. This results in a better tolerance of CO2 when you exercise, which allows you to perform longer with less breath. That said, many athletes use this breathing technique to improve their endurance.
There are multiple benefits of nasal breathing, but more scientists have shown interest in the positive effect on sleep quality. When you use nasal breathing while sleeping, it can help you avoid sore throats, dry mouth, and help you wake up feeling more refreshed. However, research shows that nasal breathing can have promising effects to improve symptoms in patients with sleep apnea.
What Causes Mouth Breathing?
While nasal breathing is more common as a natural breathing practice, some people are prone to mouth breathing due to underlying conditions or risk factors.
For example, you might end up breathing orally when you catch a common cold. If you are experiencing nasal congestion, it’s going to be hard to inhale through your nose, so you’ll have to resort to mouth breathing. This can also result from congestion in relation to allergies.
Studies show that oral breathing can be a common symptom in patients with asthma and may even lead to worsened symptoms in some situations.
According to Medical News Today, other causes may include deviated nasal septums, enlarged tonsils, sinus polyps, birth abnormalities, and more.
How Much Mouth Breathing is Considered Harmful?
Mouth breathing as a result of congestion or other short-term nasal blockages should not have many harmful effects. If your body is used to nasal breathing but resorts to mouth breathing due to illnesses like the flu or a common cold, you should be fine.
However, chronic mouth breathers should consider talking to their doctor to determine any underlying conditions. There may be a more serious cause that is leading to long-term blockages in your nasal pathways, which should be addressed by a doctor.
Consistent mouth breathing during the early stages of development may also lead to Long Face Syndrome, so it should be addressed early on to avoid potentially harmful effects. Other harmful effects can include the development of sleep disorders, fatigue, dental malocclusion, and even trouble focusing.
5 Tips To Help You Stop Mouth Breathing
If you want to help prevent mouth breathing and shift your natural breathing technique towards nasal breathing, we have some tips that may help out.
1. Practice Nasal Breathing Techniques
They say that practice makes perfect, which may be true in this case. When you practice deep breathing techniques through the nose, it can improve your body’s function and allow an easier transition to more natural nasal breathing.
It’s helpful to practice nasal breathing patterns before bed, in the morning, or during exercise.
2. Relax & De-Stress
Mouth breathing can be a natural response to stress, and may even result from panic attacks or anxiety.
Reducing your stress levels can help you transition your breathing pattern to a calmer, slower rhythm which will make it easier to breathe through your nose instead of your mouth.
Take a moment to de-stress right now: lower your shoulders, relax your jaws, and release the tongue from the roof of your mouth. Inhale a slow, deep breath in and out of your nose. You feel better already, don’t you?
3. Regular Exercise
Studies have shown that getting regular exercise while practicing nasal breathing can help you stop mouth breathing. Research shows that patients with asthma have shown improvement in their breathing techniques as a result of regular exercise.
When you force your body to breathe nasally, especially during exercise, it can train your body to work harder to obtain oxygen. The more you practice this, it will make it easier for your body to kick the habit of mouth breathing.
4. Nasal Sprays and Inhalers
Using nasal sprays used for allergies, including saline solutions, can help you improve your breathing habits.
Nasal sprays and inhalers work quickly and effectively to clear out your nasal passages, making it much easier to stop mouth breathing. Doctors recommend this method before bedtime to encourage nasal breathing while sleeping.
Check out our lineup of all-natural nasal inhalers here.
5. Reduce Allergens
Allergens can have a major impact on your ability to breathe nasally. The more allergens surrounding you, the more congested your sinuses will be. This can impact your respiratory health and close your nasal airways, forcing your body to rely on mouth breathing.
To reduce allergens, it is helpful to clean & remove them from your home. This might include dusting, vacuuming, washing your sheets, using hypoallergenic materials, and investing in an air purifier.
Nose Breathing Exercises
Check out these nose breathing exercises for your to practice & help you kick your mouth breathing habits once and for all.
Alternate Nostril Breathing
To practice alternate nostril breathing, start by positioning yourself in a seated position with your back straight/tall.
Once you’re seated, relax your shoulders, place your left hand on your left knee, and press your right thumb onto your right nostril. Inhale through your left nostril, hold your breath, and then move your right finger to your left nostril.
Exhale your breath through the right nostril, then inhale through your right nostril to repeat the exercise.
Start by positioning yourself in a seated, upright position (or you can lay down) with relaxed shoulders. Ensure your lips are closed to avoid any mouth breathing and place one hand on your stomach, then place your other hand on your chest. Inhale slowly through your nose, focusing the breath towards your stomach.
You can be sure you’re doing it correctly if you feel the sensation of your belly rising as it fills with air and your chest remains in place. Exhale, then repeat as needed.
Want to learn more nasal breathing techniques? Check out this article for more information!