Mouth breathing. The butt of many cruel jokes and the cause of a whole lot of dry mouths. Mouth breathing is surprisingly more common than you think. In a Sleep Review study, 61% of adults surveyed identified themselves as a mouth breather. That’s an awful lot of adults struggling to get a breath through their nose. Luckily if you’re one of the 61%, there are plenty of solutions out there to help you live (and more importantly, sleep) with less discomfort and struggle. Read on for the causes of mouth breathing, symptoms and treatments.
For 85% of those that are diagnosed with or identify as mouth breathers, the cause is an obstruction in the nasal passage. That means no matter how hard they try to breathe through their nose; they will not be able to. Other causes of mouth breathing are commonly linked to either someone having a habit of mouth breathing not caused by anything in particular, or a shortened upper lip that doesn’t meet the bottom lip.
Some other conditions related to mouth breathing are chronic allergies, enlarged adenoids and sleep apnea. These conditions are more serious and require medical attention, so be sure to consult with your doctor if you are experiencing abnormalities or are suddenly struggling to breathe through your nose.
Symptoms of mouth breathing can vary and depend on the person, but typically mouth breathers experience:
- Dry, cracked lips
- Bad breath
- Daytime fatigue
- Dry mouth
Mouth breathing directly affects oral health. Since a symptom of mouth breathing is an excessively dry mouth, dry mouths are known breeding grounds for bacteria. In a normal mouth, saliva washes bacteria away from the mouth and teeth. In a dry mouth, bacteria can take hold and cause cavities and gum disease. An increased risk of Gingivitis is common with mouth breathers. Not only does your oral health suffer, but due to poor sleep when battling mouth breathing, cognitive functions and energy levels are greatly reduced throughout the day.
- Common treatments for mouth breathing include a variety of different methods. Some of the most effective methods include:
- Sleep on your back to promote a more natural breathing pattern
- Clear your nose before bed with either a Neti Pot (with distilled water) or simply blow your nose
- Be sure to rid your house of any known allergens, like dust, and wash your sheets at least once per week
- Try to elevate your head when you sleep using pillows to prop it up as this will alleviate nasal drip and lessen the chances of congestion
- Get on a regular exercise program and maintain a healthy diet
If you think you may identify as a mouth breather, consult with your dentist and get more effective tips on how you can start breathing easier. Schedule an appointment with our friendly and professional staff at West Chester Dental Arts today!