A Mouthbreather describes a person who habitually breathes air through their mouth.
Breathing through the mouth can have some surprising health problems.
We all know how uncomfortable it is when we get a cold and a stuffy blocked nose. We become mouth-breathers! It is difficult to sleep, our mouths dry-out, and our breath smells!
When the cold is gone, nasal breathing should return to normal. However if mouth breathing continues and becomes a habit for whatever reason, many health problems can occur.
WHY DO WE MOUTH-BREATHE?
We generally mouthbreathe if we feel shortage of breath suffocated and want to increase our intake of air, we begin to overbreathe. Very often this negative pattern becomes habituated and we continue to mouth-breathe for life.
WHY DO WE OVER-BREATHE?
Several factors can cause us to over-breathe and thus perpetuate the habituation of mouth-breathing. Some of these are:
- We often wrap ourselves up too heavily in centrally heated, under ventilated rooms and houses. This causes the body to overheat, and our natural response is to over-breathe to regulate our body temperature and normalise it.
- It is well documented that the "modern westernised diet" of processed food, causes the acidity of the blood to increase (ie the pH of the blood to decrease). In order to compensate, the body overbreathes to off-load Carbon Dioxide, (a vital blood gas which helps to regulate blood pH), thereby reducing the acidity (ie increasing the pH) and returning the pH of the blood to normal (7.35 - 7.45)
- Over-eating stimulates the body to work harder in order to metabolise the excess intake of food. Oxygen is required for this process and over-breathing results in order to cope with the increased food load.
- When we exercise, respiration naturally increases, and with it, the amount of Carbon Dioxide produced. Lack of exercise is common nowadays, and in order to compensate for the lower levels of Carbon Dioxide produced, the body must breathe in more air, and hence over-breathe.
- Stress causes overbreathing because we react to it with a "Fight of Flight" response. When this reaction is instigated we overbreathe as our breathing gets faster and increases to cope with the consequences.
- Mouth Breathing irritates the Tonsils and Adenoids, as the inhaled air is cold, dry, dirty, and unfiltered. Also, when air does not pass over the nasal sinuses, it fails to pick-up a very important natural gas called Nitric Oxide. This gas is one of the bodies natural anti-viral, anti-bacterial agents. It also helps to dilate our blood vessels and enhance gaseous exchange.
- Snoring or Heavy Breathing
- Mouth Breathing also irritates the Gums, causing Gingivitis
- It causes Dry Mouth, and Dry Lips especially in morning. (Do you regularly need to use Lip Balm?)
Other Health Problems
- Poor Sleep or Disrupted Sleep (see section on Sleep Apnoea). This can also cause stunted growth in children.
- Bed wetting is common in Children.
- Hyperactivity: A child who does not get a good nights sleep is irritable in the morning and will have poor concentration in school. These children are often mis-diagnosed as having ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), and ADHD
- Mouth Breathing changes the way childrens faces grow. Instead of the face growing forward and down as it should, mouth breathers' faces are Narrow, Long, and generally less attractive. All Mouth Breathers will have Crooked Teeth. The chin slopes backwards (also blocking the Airway) resulting in a rather Un-attractive Face.
- Check for Common Allergies such as Dust Mite, Animal dander and / or Food Intolerances
- Check for Physical obstructions such as nasal polyps or boney symptoms. This is normaly carried out by E.N.T specialist.
- Encourage Nasal Breathing using Buteyko Breathing Program.
- Myofunctional Therapy. We are the only Practice in the country currently addressing, modifying, and correcting destructive oral habits using Myofunctional Therapy.