skip to main content
How Mouth Breathing Can Impact Mental Health, Part 1

How Mouth Breathing Can Impact Mental Health, Part 1

Friday, July 08, 2022

You may have heard someone referred to as a "mouth breather" as an insult. However, you might not have known that the habit of mouth breathing actually can be harmful to your overall health and wellness. In fact, mouth breathing caused by tongue thrust can impact physical and psychological damage in children and adults.

That's why IJustWantTo® Correct My Tongue Thrust wants to explain the condition, symptoms, and possible mental health consequences of mouth breathing.

What’s the Difference Between Breathing Through My Nose Vs. Mouth?

There are various differences between breathing through your mouth instead of your nose. When you breathe through your nose, the tiny hairs called cilia filter out debris, including allergens, pollution, and even small insects. Breathing through your nose is better for your lungs and throat due to the moist, warm air.

The nose gradually warms up to body temperature, allowing your tissues to absorb more easily. When you breathe through your mouth, it doesn't provide protection, and your mouth becomes dry as you inhale.

What Causes Mouth Breathing?

Mouth breathing happens when a person can't breathe through their nose properly. Some common conditions that affect nasal breathing include:

  • Enlarged Adenoids: Small glands situated above and behind the nose that protect young children from bacteria and viruses. Adenoids can become swollen or infected, obstructing children's airways.
  • Enlarged Tonsils: Tonsils are located at the back of the throat. Tonsillitis is much more common in children and teenagers, but adults can also develop tonsillitis that affects their ability to breathe through their noses.
  • Nasal Congestion: If you suffer from allergies, colds, or chronic sinusitis, you may experience a persistent stuffy nose that prevents you from breathing through your nose.
  • Deviated Septum: The septum is a piece of cartilage and bone that splits the inside of your nose into two sections. When your septum is tilted to one side, it can obstruct your airway and cause you to breathe through your mouth.

People who breathe through their mouths and not their noses are more likely to develop sleep disorders, including sleep apnea, chronic fatigue, snoring, and waking up tired and irritable. All of these conditions can impact a person's mental health.

Furthermore, children who have mouth breathing are more likely to have dental problems like malocclusion and facial differences. They can also develop obstructive sleep apnea that healthcare providers link to learning difficulties and behavioral problems that impact their growth into adulthood.

What Are Mouth Breathing Symptoms?

Many mouth-breathing symptoms affect children and adults in the same way. Here are some examples:

  • Dry Mouth
  • Bad Breath
  • Drool on Pillows
  • Daytime Sleepiness
  • Malocclusion.

Does Mouth Breathing Have Serious Mental Effects?

When someone breathes through their mouth, they are gulping more air than they need. Despite having more oxygen intake, mouth breathing is less efficient than taking more shallow breaths through the nose. As previously stated, mouth breathing can lead to the development of sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea, which causes frequent disruptions in the sleep cycle and low oxygen levels.

As time passes, this oxygen deficiency has a harmful effect on the mind, with the possible consequences including:

  • Impaired development of the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for learning and processing new information in children.
  • Overall, there is a decrease in the number of synaptic connections made in the brain.
  • Cortisol and adrenaline levels increase, which can cause anxiety and aggressive behavior. This is also why children with sleep apnea frequently exhibit symptoms of a hyperactive disorder like ADD or ADHD.
  • In addition, lack of sleep and low oxygen levels can lower your IQ or cause problems in learning.

IJustWantTo® Correct My Tongue Thrust Program

Breathing is one of the most important functions in your body. If you or a child suffers from mouth breathing, IJustWantTo® Correct My Tongue Thrust is a seven-lesson program that will teach you to train your tongue to "live" on the roof of your mouth rather than falling and obstructing your airway.

The author, Janet Bennet, M. Ed., CCC-SLP is a licensed Speech Pathologist for over 35 years and has developed this program to help you break the habit of mouth breathing and start living your life to the fullest.

For more information about IJustWantTo® Correct My Tongue Thrust, visit our website or contact us.

Janet M. Bennett

Written by:

Janet Bennett, M.Ed., CCC-SLP, is a Speech Pathologist in private practice in Asheville, NC, since 1977. She specializes in treating tongue thrust, a swallowing disorder that can result in buckteeth, an open bite, a lisp, snoring, and other problems that have not yet been made known to most people.