Is Your Airway Impeding Your Health? THE BENEFITS OF NASAL BREATHING
Do you breathe through your nose or through your mouth? Odds are that’s not a question you think about until you have a cold and end up with just one option. But the answer is more important than you might think. According to medical research, the way you breath has a big impact on your overall health, and there’s actually a right and a wrong way for your body to do it. Most of us do a mix of both mouth and nose breathing without thinking about it (a combination dentists call “nasal-oral breathing”) and don’t consider one option better than the other. However, breathing through your nose is far more beneficial. That’s because when you breathe through your nose, the air is filtered, warmed, and most importantly, the cells lining the sinuses add a component called nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is an amazing chemical: It prevents bacterial growth, helps your lungs absorb oxygen, widens your blood vessels, acts as a brain transmitter, and even helps transport oxygen to your organs, keeping them at peak function. No matter your age, nasal breathing can help you live a longer, healthier life and minimize your risk of problems like hypertension, stroke, and heart disease. If your nasal passage is clear, your body tries to keep up a healthy balance between nose and mouth breathing, but not everyone is so lucky. Some people develop obstructed airways over time. Allergies and trauma (like a broken nose) can have a huge impact on nasal breathing. Even gaining weight can change the function of your airway because it can cause the tongue, uvula, and throat tissues to swell. When one of these issues occurs, the person impacted is forced to breathe through their mouth, missing out on all of nitric oxide’s benefits. Mouth breathing can also cause problems of its own, particularly in young children, because it impacts the way the face grows and develops. The palate needs the tongue on the roof of the mouth to grow and expand properly. Without that stimulus from the tongue, the palate will be narrow and teeth will be crowded. According to world-renowned orthodontist Dr. Derek Mahony, “Upper-airway obstruction can be subtle in children, but it can have long-term consequences, including failure to thrive, behavioral disturbances, developmental delay, sleep disorders, and cor pulmonale.”
All of this might have you wondering if your airway is clear and if your children are breathing in the best possible way for their health. If you’re not sure about those things, my team and I can help! While many dentists look exclusively at the mouth during treatment, I take the entire facial
structure into account in my examinations. I know exactly what to look for, and if your airway or your child’s airway is obstructed, I can help you take steps to improve your airway.
When it comes to treating children, the earlier these things are caught, the better. That’s why I like to see kids early in their development. They may not have teeth yet, but they are growing their airway from the day they are born. Where the tongue spends time is important in the growth of the airway. Young kids still have malleable facial structures, so their airways can often be opened up with dental expansion appliances and other noninvasive treatments. For adults, treatment is trickier, but it’s still possible! No matter your age, opening up your airway for easier nasal breathing will improve your health.
To schedule a breathing exam or hear more about treatment options, give my office a call today at 262-970-0111. I’d love to help change your life for the better!
-Dr. Janelle Ferber-Stumpf
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