Stop what you’re doing right now. Just freeze. Now take a breath. Is your mouth open or closed?
If it’s closed you’ve got nothing to worry about. If it’s open, you are a typical “mouth breather” and probably experience some dry mouth symptoms.
Other than the occasion cotton mouth, you probably didn’t think much of your breathing habits. Well…as it turns out mouth breathing can come with some very unpleasant symptoms.
What is mouth breathing?
Though mouth breathing happens for different reasons in adults and children, the culprit is usually a nasal obstruction.
When we breathe normally through the nose, the air we take in is warmed and moistened before it gets to our lungs. If a person has difficulty breathing through the nose, however, he or she is forced to take in cold, dry air through the mouth.
How do you become a mouth breather?
Basically, an incorrect from of respiration,mouth breathing can happen for a number of reasons.
- Habit An off-set bite
- Abnormally lage tonsils Birth defects Skeletal deformity
1. Pattern has developed over many years.
A person’s bite may be off, or the position of the jaw and teeth may be such that when they sleep, their lips don’t quite close.
2. Can obstruct breating,I,e. a deviated septum can make it more difficult to breathe through the nose.
A defformity which may make it easier to breathe if they lea forward and breathe through their mouth.
3. A condition called xerostomia. In some cases, the dryness can be painfful and feel like the mouth is burning.
Mouth breathing can also develop after glands are damaged during cacer treatments.
What’s the Big deal?
The most common side effect of mouth breathing is…a dry mouth. Obviously.
This is a problem because saliva works to wash bacteria from your mouth. If your mouth is dry, the bacteria can more easily take hold and cause problems like cavities.
In children, mouth breathing can also lead to permanent skeletal deformities. How, you ask? Because it promotes the growth of the upper jaw, rather than the lower jaw. The result is a large overbite and a gummy smile.
Signs and Side effects of mouth breathing:
Lack of sleep can lead to a decrease in concentration. (which could be mistaken for ADD)
Mouth breathing can be related to sleep apnea.
Red inflamed gums.
Dry and itchy throat.
Even though a natural mouth breather may be able to stave off dryness by re-moistening the mouth throughout the day, it will get dry overnight.Because it is so drying, mouth breathing can also cause chronic bad breath. People may brush their teeth constantly or chew gum, but the bad breath is still there…Pee-ew!
You’re probably wondering how to find out if you’re “mouth breathing” while sleeping. Here’s a tip. When you wake up, put a finger over one nostril and try to breathe in while keeping your mouth closed, and then try it on the other side. Any difficulty inhaling could indicate a problem with blocked nasal passageways.
What to do about it:
It’s important to determine why the mouth breathing is happening before you can correct it. If the cause is huge tonsils, then removing them is an option. If the problem is structural, for instance a child’s overbite can prevent him from closing his mouth all the way, then the solution may be orthodontic treatment.
You can also use a humidifier while sleeping to ease mouth dryness, or replenish your glands with lots of fluids. as can replenishing with lots of fluids. Some doctors suggest that patients rub a small amount of vitamin E oil on their gums before bedtime to keep them from drying out overnight.
If you’re still unsure if you are a mouth breather or not, visit your local dentist. They will be able to tell you.
Dr. Hoediono says “It’s also important for parents to look for signs of mouth breathing in children, so the problem can be corrected before it worsens. ‘I had a mother bring a child in,’ he recalls. ‘She had parched gums, a dry mouth, an overbite and an obstruction of the nasal passages ‘ a classic mouth breather. I referred her to a doctor and they sent her for surgery. They removed a nasal obstruction, and not long after, she was feeling better and doing better at school!”