What’s with all the fuss about nasal breathing?

‘But nasal breathing is not a panacea. It’s something most of us do naturally. An exception is when we’re running – the nose has more resistance to airflow, so it’s easier to get more oxygen quickly by breathing through the mouth.”

We all breathe when we have a stuffy nose from a cold, for example, but if you’re in the minority of people who breathe through their mouths most of the time or during sleep, it’s best to identify the cause. find and treat — don’t reach for the tape, King says.

“The usual reason for mouth breathing is an obstruction of the nose — common causes include allergies or structural problems like a deviated septum, where the cartilage separating one nostril from the other is in the wrong position,” he says.

“In children, it may be due to the size of their adenoids (lymph nodes at the back of the nasal cavity in children). People with asthma have a higher prevalence of mouth breathing, but it’s not clear whether asthma causes mouth breathing or whether mouth breathing causes asthma. ”

Mouth breathing at night can also be caused by sleep apnea, in which the throat muscles relax so much that they limit the amount of air reaching the lungs. It’s made worse by sleeping on your back, drinking alcohol, and being overweight — fat deposits around the neck can constrict the airways during sleep, while fat in the center can stimulate mouth breathing, King explains.

“Losing weight, even just some of the weight, may be enough to improve sleep apnea and mouth breathing.”

As for evidence that you’re breathing through your mouth at night, waking up regularly with dry mouth is a reliable sign — and that can lead to dental problems.

“Breathing in the mouth can dry out the mouth – saliva protects the teeth, so if there is a deficiency of it, teeth can be more prone to tooth decay,” explains oral specialist Dr Amanda Phoon Nguyen, a spokesperson for the Australian Dental Association.

“You have to interpret the research carefully. I think it’s panic mongering. If parents are concerned about a child’s mouth breathing, check what’s going on.”

“There are also concerns that mouth breathing in children leads to crowding of the teeth and problems with facial development, but it is controversial because so many variables, including the individual growth of children, can make this difficult to study. You have to study the research.” interpret with caution.

“I think it’s panic mongering. If parents are concerned about a child’s mouth breathing, see what’s going on — but if a dentist or doctor suggests expensive treatment, a second opinion may be a good idea.”


Alarming claims about mouth breathing causing problems with children’s facial development, behavior and learning are not new to Dr. Chris Seton, a pediatric and sleep physician at the Woolcock Institute.

“But only 5 to 6 percent of children breathe in their mouths. Prime time is around age three when tonsils and adenoids are at their peak and can make it harder to breathe through the nose. But by five o’clock they have usually shrunk a bit and the problem is gone.

“Good GPs know that not all mouth breathing or snoring in children is a problem. When in doubt, a referral for a sleep study at a sleep clinic can determine whether there is a constipation or sleep apnea. Only about a third of children who are referred need treatment, 70 percent do not. †

While there are nighttime mouth tape products available, Seton would not recommend it for children or adults.

“If someone has a stuffy nose, taping their mouth can lower their oxygen levels even more so they wake up more often.”

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