Nasal Breathing vs Mouth Breathing

How we breathe has a lot to do with our overall health and wellness. While you may not give much thought to breathing because it happens naturally, there are significant consequences if you aren’t doing it right. Nasal breathing is the healthiest way to breathe, although many people mouth breathe unknowingly, which could have serious health consequences. About Face Collaborative would like to share the importance of nasal breathing.
Let’s consider briefly some of what happens when we breathe. Nasal breathing is most beneficial because it produces nitric oxide, which is healthy for our bodies. Here are two main benefits of nasal breathing – the air gets humidified and filtered. Nitric oxide is also produced in our blood vessels, and as a vasodilator keeps our blood vessels open. The additional nitric oxide produced in our sinuses, adds protection that is both anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial and is holistically protective and essential. These benefits do not occur in mouth breathers.
Mouth Breathing

Let’s take a moment to compare the differences between mouth breathers and nasal breathers. The consequences of mouth breathing may begin as early as birth because infants immediately breathe nasally by way of breastfeeding and breathing simultaneously. If a baby has obstructed airways, he or she may turn away from the breast due to a lack of air. In many cases, babies who fail to latch properly to the mother’s breast because of tethered oral tissues commonly known as tongue-tie, become colic resulting in distress for both the child and mother.

When mouth breathing begins during infancy and is not corrected, it could lead to a continuous problem throughout childhood that results in poor tongue and swallow function and facial growth and development issues. These form and function issues, when not corrected, lead to adults with dysfunctional breathing and potentially end-stage obstructive sleep apnea. Basically, it becomes a failure to thrive issue.

As a breastfeeding mother, look out for these signs that your baby is experiencing nasal breathing issues.

  • Frequent feedings
  • Colic
  • Gassy
  • Reflux
  • Low weight or not gaining weight

As a breastfeeding mother, you may experience low milk supply, sore or tender breasts, pain while breastfeeding, or mastitis if your baby is unable to latch properly because of a narrow airway or improper tongue function.

What happens if mouth breathing is not addressed?

Mouth breathing should be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible. While your child’s condition may not be recognized during infancy, its effects will not dissipate as they grow. Chronic mouth breathing in a child may result in the following:

  • Narrow upper dental arch
  • Crowded teeth
  • Protruding upper dental arch (significant overbite)
  • Recessed chin
  • Lip impotence
  • Dry mouth
  • Greater risk of cavities and gum disease
  • Chronic bad breath
  • Narrow facial development
  • Chronic allergies
  • Narrow airway
  • Sleep-breathing disorders
  • Stunted growth
  • Picky eating
  • Easily gags when eating

While mouth breathing presents aesthetic concerns that create an unfavorable profile, it also causes long-lasting health effects. Mouth breathing essentially means that your child is unable to get enough air. Insufficient oxygen supply poses serious health risks for anyone, especially for a growing and developing child. Mouth breathing can also lead to enlarged and/or inflamed tonsils and adenoids, which also contributes to Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome.

Pediatric Airway Assessments in Raleigh, Durham, and Cary

To learn more or to schedule an appointment, please contact About Face Collaborative by calling (919) 213-6330. Our doctors work together with other airway-focused physicians to diagnose and treat airway disorders, including obstructive sleep apnea and upper airway resistance syndrome in patients of all ages. Start sleeping better and live a healthier life by scheduling a consultation today!