You’ve probably realized that how you breathe really matters.
If you haven’t, you can prove it to yourself right now. How does it feel when you take a few short, shallow breaths through your mouth? Now, how does it feel when you take a long, deep breath through your nose...pausing at the top and exhaling slowly? Your breath has the power to immediately impact your nervous system, for better or worse.
But did you know that the way you breathe also has a huge influence on the health of your teeth? It’s true, mouth breathing has the potential to impact numerous areas of your health, and we’re diving into them....so you can learn new ways to protect your oral and overall health from this poor habit.
nose breathing vs mouth breathing
Are you a mouth breather? The truth is, you might not even know the answer to that. That’s because breathing is an unconscious habit throughout the day (for the most part)....and certainly unconscious when you’re asleep at night. Let’s dive into some of the differences between nose breathing and mouth breathing, so you can see why this topic is worth your attention!
Nose breathing is preferred because it...
- filters toxins: your tiny nose hairs serve a very important purpose. They naturally filter out allergens, microorganisms, and pathogens as you inhale. When you breathe through your mouth, these toxins can directly enter your lungs.
- humidifies and warms the air: this is important because your internal body temperature is high, so when the air you breathe is closer to your body temperature, it’s easier for your lungs to use.
- increases oxygen uptake: nose breathing produces nitric oxide, which helps to widen your blood vessels, making it easier for oxygenated blood to reach your internal tissues and organs. More nitric oxide can enhance your brain function, regulate inflammation, promote weight management, improve sleep quality, nurture your gut health, and beyond!
In short, your nose was made for breathing and smelling, so it’s important to let it do its job! On the flip side, mouth breathing is harmful because it can:
- allow more toxins into your mouth and body: mouth breathing bypasses the natural filtration system that exists in your nose, allowing more toxins to enter your airway and irritate different systems in your body.
- cause dry mouth and increase your risk of tooth decay: mouth breathing can dry out your mouth and slow your saliva production, allowing bacteria to fester, eat away at your enamel, disturb your mouth’s pH, and cause bad breath.
- increase snoring and disrupt restful sleep: if you mouth breathe, you’re more likely to snore and experience sleep disruptions (including sleep apnea).
- negatively impact your heart, brain, and lungs: as we saw with nose breathing, nitric oxide is essential. You’re not getting enough nitric oxide when you mouth breathe, and this can keep your vital organs from receiving optimal oxygenation. This can cause symptoms such as brain fog, memory loss, asthma, abnormal blood pressure/heart rate, and more.
Many experts agree that the only time mouth breathing is truly necessary is when you’re performing intense exercise, so let’s keep it that way!
the dental signs of mouth breathing
We’ve discussed how mouth breathing can cause dry mouth, but the negative effects on your oral health stem even further. The dental signs of mouth breathing can include:
- increased oral pH: as you sleep, mouth breathing can decrease your oral pH. This can appear as increased enamel erosion, sensitivity, gum disease, and/or tooth decay.
- bad breath: reduced saliva in your mouth allows bacteria to fester, causing you to wake up with “cotton mouth” and bad breath.
- enlarged tonsils: these are both a cause and an effect of mouth breathing. As mouth breathing dries out your mouth and affects your pH, this can lead to inflammation in the tonsils and adenoids. But enlarged tonsils and adenoids can also obstruct your primary airway and prompt you to breathe through your mouth. It’s a vicious cycle!
- TMJ and jaw clenching (bruxism): your tongue is supposed to serve as a “cushion” for your jaw, but mouth breathing can cause your tongue to move away from the roof of your mouth. With your tongue out of position, it can’t properly support your jaw and dental arch, which can lead to issues such as TMJ and jaw clenching.
As you can see, “mouth breather” isn’t just an insulting term made famous by Stranger Things. It’s a serious condition to consider when it comes to your oral and overall health!
how to stop mouth breathing
Now that you know the harms of mouth breathing, how can you stop it?
During the day, we recommend practicing mindfulness to discover your breathing patterns. If you find yourself mouth breathing more often than not, establish a daily ritual that includes deep breathing through your nose. You’ll also want to ensure that your nasal passages are clear, perhaps by using saline sprays/flushes.
Nighttime mouth breathing is a little bit trickier. But don’t worry, there are countless brands of mouth tape out there that help you stop mouth breathing. For example, SomniFix Strips are designed to comfortably keep your mouth closed, your jaw aligned, and your tongue on the roof of your mouth, leaving your nasal airway clear for efficient nose breathing.
how hydroxyapatite can combat the effects of mouth breathing
Along with mouth tape and mindfulness, hydroxyapatite toothpaste can help you mitigate the effects of mouth breathing. We’ve discussed how mouth breathing can cause dry mouth, enamel damage, sensitivity, tooth decay, and beyond, so it’s a good thing that our hydroxyapatite toothpaste can help you combat all of those things!
Hydroxyapatite is a substance that already exists in your teeth and bones. When you brush daily with our hydroxyapatite toothpaste, the nano-hydroxyapatite particles bind to your enamel on a molecular level, filling holes and scratches while remineralizing weakened areas. This helps to relieve sensitivity (within just a few days) and prevent further damage.
Our hydroxyapatite toothpaste also contains vegetable glycerin and xylitol, both of which work to moisturize your mouth to prevent dry mouth. Glycerin is a natural moisturizer that stimulates your salivary glands, immediately soothing the symptoms of dry mouth. Research shows that xylitol also stimulates saliva production while starving bad bacteria in your mouth, providing an extra line of defense for your teeth!
If you’re a mouth breather, don’t hesitate to add our hydroxyapatite toothpaste to your daily routine.