The quick answer is yes. Sleeping with your mouth open is harmful to your health, as it prevents the body’s natural absorption of oxygen to the brain and muscles (The Breathe Institute). Mouth breathing occurs when a person’s nasal passage becomes obstructed. When this happens, the body’s automatic response is to receive oxygen through its second passageway: the mouth. This behavior disrupts regenerative sleep—which plays an essential role in both your mental and physical wellness—and can also cause you to develop serious health issues as you age, including
- Sleep Disordered Breathing
- Poor Jaw Alignment
- Oral and Respiratory Infections
- Dry Mouth (i.e. bad breath)
- Sleep Apnea
- Tooth Crowding
- Gum Disease
Nose Breathing vs. Mouth Breathing
In addition to providing your body the oxygen it needs to survive, proper breathing (i.e. nose breathing) allows the release of waste and carbon dioxide.
Breathing through the nose produces nitric oxide, which helps the lungs’ ability to absorb oxygen and improve its ability to transport oxygen throughout the entire body. It relaxes vascular smooth muscle cells while allowing blood vessels to dilate. This process also helps your immune system fight off infections.
More advantages of nose breathing include:
- The nose acts as a filter and keeps small particles in the air
- Nose breathing adds resistance to the air stream which increasing oxygen uptake
- Noses add moisture to the air preventing dryness in the bronchial tubes and lungs
- The nose warms up cold air to body temperature before it gets to the lungs.
Breathing through the mouth is considered poor breathing (The Breathe Institute), as there is no nitric oxide delivered, no air warming, and air humidifying advantages with mouth breathing. In reality, mouth breathing is the body’s survival mechanism that’s triggered when breathing through the nose is impossible.
How to Stop Mouth Breathing at Night
Mouth breathing can increase as we age, due to certain behavioral habits we acquire as children (e.g. bottle feeding, early diet of soft foods, etc.) that alter our muscle tone and orofacial development. Therefore, early detection of mouth breathing in your child is essential. Dakota Dental can work with you to reestablish proper jaw dimensions and tongue position for nasal breathing. For adult mouth breathers, there are certain measures you can take to avoid this behavior from affecting your sleep patterns and causing serious health issues later in life, including
- Sleeping on your back with your head elevated
- Keeping your house free of allergens and clean
- Using air filters in your heating and air conditioning (HVAC) systems
- Practice breathing through your nose during waking hours
Because these preventative measures are no guarantee, it’s best to contact a professional, who specializes in airway focused dentistry and myofunctional therapy, to help you improve airway dimension and tone and resolve improper tongue and muscle habits.
Treatment for Mouth Breathing in the Twin Cities
For more information about airway dentistry and myofunctional therapy, contact Dakota Dental today. We offer free consultations to assist you and your child in choosing the best treatment plan to improve your oral health for long-term wellness.