One of life’s most natural acts is breathing. But did you know that how we breathe can affect our oral and overall health? As a result, it’s critical to pay attention to how we breathe.
This article explains how humans breathe and the differences between nose and mouth breathing. You can also learn:
- 🤔 Does it matter how you breathe?
- 📖 Differences between nasal and mouth breathing.
- 📝 Which one is healthier?
It Matters How You Breathe
How you breathe can significantly impact how you feel, and it can have ramifications that affect other tissues and systems. For example, the rate and depth with which you breathe impact the parasympathetic nervous system, which regulates our bodies’ relaxation response.
As we mentioned, most of us breathe in and out without thinking about it. However, it has been discovered that paying attention to our breath can significantly change our minds and bodies.
When we breathe slowly, the parasympathetic nervous system receives the message that everything is fine and that we can relax. However, shallow, fast breathing alerts the sympathetic nervous system that you are in danger, triggering our fight-or-flight response.
Differences Between Nasal Breathing vs. Mouth Breathing
You can breathe through your mouth or nose. This is because both of them lead to the throat, where oxygen enters the lungs. Nonetheless, there are significant differences between nose and mouth breathing.
The nose’s function is to assist us in breathing efficiently, correctly, and safely. It can do so because breathing through your nose filters toxins, humidifies nasal passages, and improves circulation.
Here is a closer look at the advantages of nose breathing:
Remove any foreign particles
The hairs inside the nose serve as a natural filtration system, keeping allergens, pollen, and dust out of the lungs. This is not possible when we breathe through our mouths.
Humidify inhaled air
The air you breathe in is warmed and moisturized by your nose. As a result, it’s easier for your lungs to use air closer to body temperature.
Produce nitric oxide (NO)
Your nose produces NO during nasal breathing. Nitric oxide is a vasodilator that widens our blood vessels and allows nutrient-rich oxygenated blood to go to all our organs and tissues more quickly.
You can breathe through your mouth, but it’s not the same as nasal breathing.
Mouth breathing is only necessary during intensive exercises or when the nasal passages are blocked (from allergies, congestion, or cold). You may need to breathe through your mouth if you have small nostrils or a deviated septum.
There are several disadvantages of mouth breathing:
When you inhale through the mouth, your mouth becomes drier and loses moisture.
Opens the door to allergies
Unlike the nose, the mouth can’t filter particles, meaning that you can inhale various allergens and thus get a reaction to them.
Mouth breathing has additional disadvantages as it is associated with bad breath, asthma, tooth decay, gingivitis, snoring, sleep apnea, and tooth or jaw abnormalities.
How to Begin Practicing Nasal Breathing Properly
As you can see, nasal breathing has more benefits than breathing through the mouth. However, for many, this doesn’t come naturally. Luckily, there are ways to retrain yourself and start nasal breathing successfully.
- Be aware of how you normally breathe. Focus on your daily breathing patterns to see if you breathe correctly.
- Handle congestion. Naturally, breathing through the nose will be more difficult if it’s congested. You can apply saline solution or even herbal oils to solve this problem.
- Practice daily breathing exercises. A daily breath training practice will help you become more aware of the breathing patterns and train your breath to flow naturally through your nose.
Remember that nose breathing requires a commitment 24 hours a day, until it becomes a healthy habit. It is just as important to breathe correctly during rest and sleep as during the day.
Why Is Nose Breathing Healthier Than Mouth Breathing?
Breathing through the nose slows and reduces the volume of air that enters the lungs. This is critical for efficiency, the optimal nervous system, and blood gas balance. In addition, breathing through your nose keeps your airways clear. On the other hand, breathing in through the nose but out through the mouth can cause nasal congestion, making breathing difficult.
When you exhale through the nose, the lungs also draw oxygen from the inhaled air. Nasal breathing is slower, and nasal exhalation causes air backflow into your lungs. The air will stay in the lungs longer, giving the body more time to extract oxygen.
Additionally, nose breathing is healthier because maintaining diaphragm breathing through the mouth is impossible. Nasal breathing strengthens the diaphragm, which is an integral core muscle that is required for spine stability. Furthermore, breathing through the nose during physical activities can improve mental focus and increase coronary artery blood flow.
15 Benefits of Breathing Through Your Nose
- Humidifies and warms inhaled air
- Reduces the exposure to foreign particles
- Increases airflow to nerves, arteries, and veins
- Reduces the risk of allergies and hay fever
- Lowers the risk of sore throat
- Boosts oxygen uptake and circulation
- Slows down breathing
- Increases lung volume
- Boosts the immune system
- It aids the diaphragm in working correctly
- Improves sleep by lowering the chances of sleep apnea and snoring
- Aids in the formation of teeth and mouth
- Avoids dry mouth
- Increases athletic performance by increasing CO2 tolerance
- Increase NO production to allow more oxygen into the bloodstream
Do You Get More Oxygen Through Your Mouth or Nose?
We are designed to breathe through our noses since nose breathing allows for the most efficient exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide. Breathing through the mouth interferes with the exchange and reduces oxygen absorption.
When we breathe through our noses, we impose approximately 50% more air resistance on the incoming air stream than through our mouths. As a result, nasal breathing keeps more air in the lungs than mouth breathing and increases blood oxygen levels by 10-20% at any given time. Breathing through the nose also warms the air by up to 40 degrees before it reaches the lungs, which is especially beneficial in winter.
When is Mouth Breathing Acceptable?
People should only breathe through their mouth during intense exercise or if their nose is blocked due to allergies, congestion, or a cold. In such situations, temporary breathing through the mouth can help you get more air into your lungs faster.
In every other case, you should try to breathe through your nose. Sleep disorders caused by mouth breathing can harm your life. What’s more, it can alter the structure of people’s faces in the long term.
How to Correct Mouth Breathing
Unfortunately, mouth breathing is connected to facial changes and neck and head posture changes. Furthermore, chronic mouth breathing can lead to an “adenoid face.” This facial structure includes a narrow upper dental arch, incisor changes, an imperfect lip seal, and enlarged facial height.
Healthcare providers may treat mouth breathing with medication or surgery to enable you to breathe through your nose. However, if you don’t want to solve the problem this way, you can always try mewing. In our mewing 101 guide, you can find everything about how it can help you with your mouth breathing.
Mewing is a term that describes and presents some of the research findings on jaw development and related health issues such as sleep apnea. Mewing can be used to treat long faces caused by mouth breathing, as well as other dysfunctions. Consistent practice is the most important aspect of stopping mouth breathing and fixing a mouth breather’s face. Breathing and mewing correctly will get you a better face shape.
The Link Between Mouth Breathing and Tied Tongue
Many people who have a tied tongue are also chronic mouth breathers. Mouth breathing, when done for a long period, can cause trauma to the throat tissues, including the tonsils. The tonsils may then enlarge and cause airway obstructions while sleeping.
The good news is that tongue tie correction by mewing is also possible. Restricted tongue movements are one of the symptoms of a tied tongue. As a result, maintaining proper tongue posture can take time and effort. Therefore, it is critical to address this condition, and it’s wise to schedule an appointment with an orthodontist.
Tongue exercises are a post-surgery aftercare method for tied tongue treatments. Mewing will help you increase your tongue’s mobility and maintain the correct tongue posture.
Mouth breathing can also result in narrow, long faces, narrow arches, receded jaws, crooked teeth, and future TMJ issues. This happens because when your mouth is open, the tongue is on the mouth floor rather than the palate, where it should be when the head is growing.
TMJ disorders and mewing are related. TMJ treatment with mewing can help define the jaw, realign the tongue, and relieve snoring and jaw pain. Mewing is an exercise that should be done daily. It can also serve as a stress-relieving exercise. In addition, you can achieve your desired face structure if you do it correctly.
Nasal Breathing Exercises
Regular exercise benefits your overall health and improves breathing by activating blood vessels in the nasal cavity. Furthermore, exercise promotes weight loss and reduces snoring.
There are, however, some special nasal breathing exercises that can help you stop being a mouth breather and start implementing correct breathing through your nose. Here are some:
1. Alternate Nostril Breathing
This exercise involves closing one nostril with the finger while breathing through the other. Because you’ll concentrate on breathing, this can also be a meditative experience. Alternate nostril breathing requires concentration, so it is excellent for increasing mindfulness. It may also reduce stress and improve your lung function.
To experiment with nostril breathing, follow these steps:
- Keep your back straight and shoulders relaxed.
- Place your right hand on the right knee.
- Put your left thumb against the left nostril. Breathe in through your right nostril.
- Insert your left ring finger into your right nostril. Breathe out of your left nostril.
- Breathe in through your left nostril.
- Bring your left thumb back to the left nostril. Exhale out of your right nostril.
- Repeat for another five minutes.
2. Belly Breathing
Belly breathing, known as abdominal or breathing through diaphragm, entails taking slow, deep breaths through the nose. Feel the belly rise and fill with air as you inhale. This will increase the oxygen you take in while also slowing your heart rate and breathing.
This exercise also promotes mindfulness and decreases stress. Follow these steps to do it properly:
- Sit up straight and keep your shoulders relaxed.
- Keep your mouth shut to avoid breathing through your mouth.
- Put one hand on your stomach and one on the chest.
- Slowly inhale through the nose, focusing on the air as it expands your belly like a balloon. Your chest should remain motionless.
- Purse your lips and slowly exhale.
- Repeat this several times.
3. Skull Shining Breath
This exercise entails rapid, powerful exhalations and normal inhalations. Engaging your diaphragm and respiratory muscles can help boost your respiratory function and concentration.
Follow these steps to do it correctly:
- Sit with your back straight and your shoulders relaxed.
- Put your hands on your stomach.
- Deeply inhale through the nose, visualizing air moving down into your stomach and allowing the lower belly to expand.
- Exhale through the nose without pausing, allowing your stomach to move in. Keep passively breathing in and forcefully breathing out.
- Repeat to get the rhythm down.
- Accelerate the exhales and inhales. Repeat for another 30 seconds.
As you can see, breathing through your nose rather than your mouth is healthier. This is because nasal breathing is more natural and allows your body to make better use of the air you inhale. It also delivers more oxygen than mouth breathing and may help people avoid infections.
People who frequently practice breathing through the mouth should consult a healthcare professional to devise a plan to improve their breathing patterns.