Breathing through the nose is the most effective way to absorb oxygen into the body. Nasal sinuses produce nitric oxide, which helps with oxygen absorption and raises blood oxygen levels. The nose also acts as a filter, preventing bacteria and particles from penetrating the lungs.
However, when the body doesn’t get enough oxygen breathing through the nose, mouth breathing is the body’s only other option. This can create problems for good oral health by drying the mouth and decreasing saliva production. Saliva plays a vital role in neutralizing acids and helping to washing away the bacteria that cause tooth decay and gum disease. In turn, these bacteria can lead not only to tooth and bone loss, but have been shown to be associated with many other serious health conditions including cancer, stroke, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s Syndrome.
Of course, mouth breathing may be temporarily caused by a cold or seasonal allergy, yet there can be more chronic conditions due to a variety of reasons such as a deviated septum, nasal polyps, sleep apnea, an obstructed airway, allergies, environmental issues, and many other causes. In fact, some people may be unaware that they are mouth breathing, especially at night while sleeping.
In children, mouth breathing can create facial and dental developmental problems, and may also affect their quality of sleep. This can lead to reduced tongue and airway space, underdeveloped jaws and later to sleep apnea. One study linked mouth breathing and obstructive sleep apnea to a significantly increased risk for the development of behavioral and social difficulties in children due to poor sleep quality during critical periods of brain development.
A dental professional can examine and assess patients of any age for mouth breathing symptoms and causes, and work toward treating mouth breathing in order to avoid or reduce its associated dental and health risks.
If would like more information about how mouth breathing affects dental and overall health, and are interesting in finding out about assessing and treating mouth breathing, Dr. Heidi Finkelstein and her caring staff at My Plantation Dentist can help. To schedule your appointment, please contact us today at 954-584-1030.