Skip to main content

Breathing through your mouth can lead to a host of problems | Photo credit: iStock Images


  • Breathing is so natural and programmed into our systems that we breathe without any conscious effort on our part.
  • But it’s important to pay attention to how you breathe.
  • In general, it is healthier to breathe through the nose rather than the mouth.

Breathing through your nose is the natural way our body was designed to breathe and this – better than breathing through your mouth – helps your body use the air you inhale efficiently.

We tend to breathe through our mouths when we have nasal congestion due to allergies or a cold. Additionally, when you exercise intensely, mouth breathing can help oxygenate your muscles faster. But these are really exceptions and generally breathing through your mouth all the time, including when you sleep, can lead to problems.

Your nose and mouth are just two ways to breathe. Ultimately, both lead to your throat, which carries oxygen to your lungs. So why do doctors say that nose breathing is better and if you breathe through your mouth, you need to fix it?

In children, mouth breathing can cause crooked teeth, facial deformities or poor growth. In adults, chronic mouth breathing can cause bad breath and gum disease. It can also make symptoms of other illnesses worse.

nasal breathing

The nasal architecture is conducive to safe breathing and makes your breathing safer as air reaches the lungs. Your nose can:

  1. The nasal passage filters foreign particles: The passage through the nose is lined with fine hairs that trap dust, impurities, allergens, pollens, insects, etc. before they enter the precious respiratory system aka the lungs. The mucous membranes also help by trapping irritants and expelling them with a sneeze.
  2. The nasal passage moistens the inhaled air: Suppose the outside air is extremely cold. Inhaling this cold air can send your lungs into heat shock. But instead, as air travels through the nasal passage, the warm sinuses, it warms and hydrates the air you breathe. This brings the air you breathe in to body temperature, making it easier to use your lungs and not sending the lungs out. in an entry.
  3. Produces Nitric Oxide: During nasal breathing, your nose releases nitric oxide (NO). NO gas from the nose and sinuses is inhaled with each breath and reaches the lungs in a more dilute form to improve pulmonary uptake of oxygen via local vasodilation (meaning it helps to widen blood vessels) . This can help improve oxygen circulation in your body.

Mouth breathing:

However, in an emergency or when you need it intermittently due to nasal congestion, deviated septum, etc., your mouth is actually designed for something else. It helps you eat, drink and talk.

Mouth breathing can cause:

  1. Loss of moisture from the mouth area, which can cause dry mouth
  2. Increase the risk of inhaling unfiltered air
  3. Cause allergic reactions to allergens
  4. Trigger an asthma attack
  5. Give rise to bad breath
  6. Cause dental caries and/or inflammation of the gums (gingivitis)
  7. Cause snoring and/or sleep apnea
  8. In children, cause abnormalities of the teeth or jaw

Help your child breathe well:

Dr. Shahrzad (Sherry) Sami is a dual specialist in pediatric dentistry and orthodontics. A graduate of Columbia University, she completed her residency in pediatric dentistry and orthodontics at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Medical Center. In an interview with on “Noticing and Correcting Mouth Breathing,” Dr. Sami urged parents to observe their babies while they sleep.

Does your child move around the bed restlessly? Or does he grind his teeth? This could signal a misaligned jaw or airway issues. Parents should examine their children’s breathing habits. Tooth decay (which occurs despite brushing and avoiding chocolates) is a big red flag. It may be because of mouth breathing that the child’s saliva evaporates at night. Saliva is a protective agent with enzymes that protect our teeth, so when it dries, you retain more plaque. Your gums get really red and you tend to get more cavities, says Dr. Shahrzad (Sherry) Sami.

In the long term, the shape of the face can change: The child may develop an elongated jaw and put more pressure on the neck, which then causes the child to develop a small hump or a large spinal curvature in children as young as two years old. All of these can be compensatory mechanisms for an obstructed airway. Mouth breathing can make our system more acidic, which can affect digestion and nutrient absorption in our gut, adds Dr. Shahrzad (Sherry) Sami.

How to teach baby to breathe through the nose?

Gently clean the baby’s nose. Just like our teeth, our nose needs constant cleaning.
Doctors recommend using nose baths with saline solution every night.
Ancient methods such as neti pots have been implemented in many cultures – which work very well.
The doctor might prescribe medication for nasal rinses or suctioning to clear the airways.

At the end of the line :

Nose breathing is more beneficial than mouth breathing. To improve your nasal breathing, try exercises like Alternate Nostril Breathing, Abdominal Breathing, and Fire Breathing. These techniques – originally called Pranayam, Bhastrika, Anulom-Vilom, Sudarshan Kriya, etc. in Yoga and Ayurveda, can help you control nasal breathing while improving your lung function and reducing stress.

A word of warning: This article is not, and is not intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. Consult your doctor before implementing any of the ideas mentioned above.

Disclaimer: The tips and suggestions mentioned in the article are provided for general information only and should not be construed as professional medical advice. Always consult your doctor or dietitian before starting any fitness program or making any changes to your diet.