I realized that I was a mouth breather in a pretty embarrasing way at the age of 19. My boyfriend at the time introduced me to his little 5 year old brother, that for some reason didn’t like me. He started pulling his tongue out to me often, to show that he wasn’t going to make it easy for me in that family. 

One day he was really mean and pulled my dress with force, and my boyfriend asked him: 

-“Why don’t you like Rakel?”

And he said with certain disgust…

-“Because she breathes through the mouth, wide open like a dog!, it’s disturbing”. 

I was shocked. My face became red and warm. I wanted the Earth to swallow me. I had never noticed that I was a mouth breather. 

That was an unforgettable day. Since then I started correcting this habit just for the “esthetics of it, after all I like dogs, but to look like one was quite upsetting.

If my “little ex- brother in law” knew how he saved my health and my life by making the comment… I am forever grateful.

Let’s be clear…Beside looking like a dog, there are worse things that can happen when you breathe through the mouth as opposed to the nose. Here are some important ones:

  • Your stress levels rise since by breathing through the mouth you are breathing shallow and usually only using the upper parts of the lungs so you turn on your sympathetic nervous system. That keeps you producing the stress hormone cortisol all day long. Your body never gets to recover and one day very soon your start getting ill. Your systems need a break.
  • The nose produces nitric oxide, which increases the ability to transport oxygen throughout your body, including inside your heart, and helps the lungs to absorb oxygen too. It relaxes vascular smooth muscle and allows blood vessels to dilate. Nitric oxide is also antifungal, antiviral, antiparasitic, and antibacterial. It helps the immune system to fight infections. When you breathe through the mouth all those things can’t happen. And you are pray to all sorts of illnesses. 
  • In winter the air that you breathe is not at the right temperature when you breathe through your mouth since it’s your nose that warms up cold air to body temperature before it gets to your lungs.
  • The nose acts as a filter and retains small particles in the air, including pollen that can easily enter the body when you breathe through the mouth.
  • The nose adds moisture to the air to prevent dryness in the lungs and bronchial tubes. You can feel how your mouth dries when you breathe through it. A dry mouth means that saliva cannot wash bacteria from the mouth. This can lead to:
    • Bad breath (halitosis)
    • Periodontal disease, such as gingivitis and tooth cavities
    • Throat and ear infections

Mouth breathing may also result in low oxygen concentration in the blood. This is associated with high blood pressure and heart failure. Studies show mouth breathing may also decrease lung function, and worsen symptoms in people with asthma.

In children constantly breathing through the mouth can be quite dangerous. It can produce:

  • Large tonsils
  • Dry, cracked lips
  • Sleeping problems that lead to:
    • Slower growth rate
    • Poor academic performance because of the lack of concentration
    • Irritability
    • Increased crying episodes at night
    • Daytime sleepiness
  • Concentration problems in children can easily be misdiagnosed at school with attention deficit disorder (ADD) or hyperactivity. When actually what is happening is that the child is breathing through the mouth and not getting a deep recovery sleep time.

In children, mouth breathing can also lead to physical problems and cognitive challenges. Children who aren’t treated for mouth breathing can develop:

  • Long narrow faces
  • Narrow mouths
  • Gummy smiles
  • Dental malocclusion, including a large overbite and crowded teeth
  • Poor posture

So PLEASE check if you or your loved ones, especially any child around you- are breathing through the mouth. If it’s temporary there is nothing to worry about. But if it’s chronic because of allergies or structure of the sinus, please please please consult with a doctor. You can avoid many illnesses, and also of course…stop looking like a dog. 

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