The term mouth-breather generally correlates with someone who isn’t very smart. But there may be more to the moniker than its use as an insult.
Utilizing both your mouth and your nose to breathe obviously is a no-brainer, but if you’re breathing through your mouth the majority of the time, it can make way for a greater incidence of health issues. In children, studies show that mouth breathing can cause crooked teeth, poor growth, and even facial deformities (via Healthline). For adults, constant inhales through the mouth can lead to gum disease and bad breath while worsening symptoms of other illnesses.
If you’ve ever had a bad cold, you’ve likely realized how uncomfortable constant mouth breathing can be. You may feel lower on oxygen or experience dryness throughout your mouth; it even impacts your sleep. According to Healthline, the nose creates nitric oxide, which improves your lungs’ ability to fully absorb the oxygen you need. Needless to say, this function is vitally important and can be the difference between maintaining the amount of air your body needs to thrive and being deficient.
Nose breaths are of higher quality than those from your mouth
By breathing through your nose, your lungs get perfectly filtered, humidified oxygen to send throughout the body and the bloodstream. Lined with tiny hairs called cilia, the nose protects the system from an estimated 20 billion particles of foreign matter on a daily basis (via Gaiam).
When you take a breath through your nose, you’re not only getting better air, you’re also breathing more deeply by activating muscles throughout your abdomen. Nose-breathing stimulates the lower part of the lungs which helps to send more oxygen throughout the bloodstream. Furthermore, this portion of the lungs activates the parasympathetic nervous system which is the rest-and-digest state where you can fully relax and slow the stress response. The opposite is true when you breathe through your mouth. By breathing into your chest, this turns on the stress response, making it more difficult to relax and for your body to function properly.
Nasal breathing also improves sleep quality, so make sure to help keep your nasal passages clear by taking care of any allergies or using a nasal rinse (via CNN). It may take time to get used to nasal breathing more frequently, but the payoff is worth it.
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