Oral health is a major component of overall well being. With that said, there are many factors that contribute to oral health you may not know about.
While having a robust oral health regimen is crucial, you may not know that the way you breath can also impact oral health.
Mouth breathing, either while you sleep or during the waking hours, can have a major impact on how your teeth develop. Chronic mouth breathing is generally caused by one issue—chronic nasal obstruction (CNO).
What is CNO?
CNO is a chronic condition described as an inability to deliver the proper amount of oxygen through nostril breathing. This can be caused by a number of factors including inflammation, growths in the nasal passage called polyps, or by having a deviated septum.
CNO, which is also called chronic sinusitis, forces you to breathe through your mouth because your nose is unable to deliver the proper amount of oxygen to your body. The condition becomes chronic as your mouth automatically opens and ingests air to make up for the lack of air coming through your nose.
While to many it may simply be an annoyance to hear someone else breathing, it is in fact an involuntary reaction to blocked sinuses. That means those who we may call “mouth breathers” are actually unable to breath any other way.
Side Effects of CNO
The side effects of CNO are numerous, and can lead to serious health problems in the future. We’ve broken down the major side effects so you can determine whether or not you suffer from CNO and, perhaps more importantly, if it is a problem that needs to be addressed.
Dry Mouth – Saliva that naturally collects in the mouth helps not only to break down food, but also kills excess bacteria. If you have chronic dry mouth from mouth breathing you are often eliminating the excess saliva that guards your mouth from infection.
The infections and bacteria that collect in dry mouths can cause a number of health issues including heart disease, gum disease, gingivitis, and more.
Dry Lips – Dry lips are not only caused by dry air, but in pulling air past the lips more often than they are built for. While this side effect is more of an inconvenience most times, it can lead to infections in the lips caused by cracking and blistering.
Posture Problems – Since we’ve evolved to largely breathe through our nose, having to breathe through the mouth will actually force us to take on a different posture. That’s because the airways leading from the mouth to the lungs are different than those originating from our noses.
In children, this can lead to physical developmental issues. This is because their bodies are still developing, and having to continually change your posture to breathe can eventually have a negative impact on the way you stand and sit.
Increased Infections – The drier mouth you experience from mouth breathing removes the saliva from your mouth, leading to infections and bacteria. Continually breathing through the mouth means you are moving that bacteria and infectious agents through your airways.
Often mouth breathers will experience more sinus infections and earaches because bacteria is being pushed to vulnerable areas not designed to fight back infection as easily.
Chronic Bad Breath – If your mouth stays dry for long periods of time, the saliva-producing mechanisms in your mouth will eventually produce less.
This means you will suffer from chronic bad breath, in large part caused by a buildup of bacteria and the inability to remove plaque naturally with saliva. Bad breath is the definitive sign of a mouth that is unable to clean itself.
If you have experienced any of the side effects of CNO, there is a way to treat it. Contact our office today to find out how our expert dental professionals can help you and your children lead an overall healthier life by addressing chronic mouth breathing today!
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My name is Jeremy Rourke. I’m part of a family of dentists with my father, brother, cousin and nephew also being dentists. I won a University of Sydney Dental Alumni prize for being the top student in my year and graduated with Honours in 1971. I have been a Registered dentist for over 40 years. In that time I have created a few “firsts” in my efforts to stay ahead.