The National Health Portal of India explains that breathing is a vital function of the human body, normally done through the nose. But some people may notice that they often breathe through their mouths during the day or when they sleep. Since breathing through the mouth doesn't have the same benefits as nose breathing, you may wonder, is it bad to be a mouth breather?
Is It Bad to Be a Mouth Breather? | Colgate®
Common Causes of Mouth Breathing
The NHP further explains that mouth breathing may be due to blockage in nasal passage, deviated nasal septum, enlarged adenoids or an infection in the nose & throat.
Practo notes that nasal congestion, commonly known as a ‘stuffy nose’, is the uncomfortable, stuffed-up feeling you experience during a cold or the flu. It can also be due to an allergy or a sinus infection. In addition, a nasal reaction to an allergen or irritant, such as pollen or pollution can cause a blocked nose. Growths in the nose's lining, called nasal polyps, may also interfere with airflow through the nose.
Enlarged tissue in the back of the nose can sometimes cause nasal obstruction in children, or young children may even accidentally obstruct their own nose by putting beads or other foreign objects in their nostrils.
How Mouth Breathing Affects Oral Health
If you regularly breathe through your mouth, you may notice that your mouth feels dry. This dryness may be uncomfortable — but what's more, it can lead to oral health complications. The National Health Portal of India notes that possible causes of bad breath include unhealthy diet, dry mouth, gum disease, tobacco use or simply bad oral hygiene. According to the e-DantSeva, dry mouth also known as xerostomia is a condition in which the salivary glands in the oral cavity does not make enough saliva to keep mouth wet. Saliva helps prevent tooth decay by neutralising acids produced by bacteria, limiting bacterial growth and washing away food particles. Decrease in salivary flow and inability to wet mouth can result in dental decay among other dental issues.
The National Health Portal of India explains that malocclusion is the misalignment of teeth of upper or lower jaw or both jaws. The literal meaning of word malocclusion is “bad bite” or “irregular bite”. Malocclusion may be present as crooked, crowded, protruding teeth, spacing between upper front teeth or generalised spacing between upper or lower teeth. It may affect a person’s appearance, speech, and/or ability to eat. Among other reasons it can be caused by habits like thumb sucking or finger sucking, lip or nail biting, tongue thrusting, respiratory problem like mouth breathing, trauma and accidents. This isn't just a cosmetic concern, either. The NHP further notes that Malocclusion may not have any symptoms, except unacceptable facial and dental appearance. Protruded teeth, crowding, or spacing between teeth are signs of malocclusion. Sometimes there may be difficulty in chewing, speech problems and teeth may show signs of wear and tear.
According to the National Health Portal of India, mouth breathing may cause dryness of mouth leading to bad breath and gingivitis. When children breathe through their mouths, the constant exposure to air can dry out their gums, leading to inflammation. Children with this condition may have red, swollen gums, and their gums may partially cover the teeth.
Treatments for Mouth Breathing and Related Issues
To learn how to breathe through the nose instead of the mouth, you should see your dentist or doctor for an evaluation. The treatment for mouth breathing will vary depending on its exact cause. The NHP further notes that Treatment of mouth breathing depends on its cause and should be done at an early age. Nasal congestion can be treated with the help of decongestants and nasal sprays. A surgery (tonsillectomy, septoplasty or adenoids removal) may be required to treat some cases of nasal obstruction. Dentists may recommend use of certain orthodontic appliances (oral screen, chin cap, activator appliance) under appliance therapy too.
In addition, you may also need treatments for oral complications caused by mouth breathing. To treat dry mouth the Indian Dental Association suggests chewing on a piece of sugarless gum, brush for hygiene, avoid alcohol, avoid aerated drinks, Suck on a ice cube to keep your mouth hydrated, avoid salty food, eat fibre rich food, they stimulate salivary secretion, stay away from rich, spicy and acidic food, since they dry the mouth. According to the e-DantSeva crooked teeth are irregular teeth that affect millions of people all over the globe. There are many reasons why teeth can become crooked throughout the different stages of our lives. Here are some of the most common causes: genetics, thumb sucking, ageing. Braces are a very effective way to straighten crooked teeth. The IDA notes that invisalign is a new orthodontic treatment system that works to straighten teeth through the use of a series of clear plastic moulds (aligners) as an alternative to traditional metal dental braces. According to the National Health Portal of India, treatment of mouth breathing depends on its cause and should be done at an early age. A surgery (tonsillectomy, septoplasty or adenoids removal) may be required to treat some cases of nasal obstruction. You can talk to your dentist to learn more about the treatments that may be available to you.
Regularly breathing through the mouth isn't optimal, and it may cause a number of oral health complications. If you think you're a mouth breather, seek advice from your dentist or doctor.
This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.