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How Posture Affects Mouth Breathing and Vice Versa

How Posture Affects Mouth Breathing and Vice Versa

Thursday, May 05, 2022

Did you know that mouth breathing is a bad habit? That we aren't designed to breathe through the mouth in normal situations?

Mouth breathing is a common clinical condition in both children and adults, and it can have an impact on quality of life and postural changes. In this blog, we will discuss everything related to mouth breathing, and how to improve your posture.

All About Mouth Breathing


What Causes Mouth Breathing?

Mouth breathing can be caused by a variety of factors. In most cases, it’s caused by an obstructed or partially blocked nasal airway. If this occurs, our bodies will automatically turn to the other source of oxygen, which is our mouths.

Anxiety and stress are other factors that can cause people to breathe through their mouths rather than their noses because they activate the sympathetic nervous system, resulting in shallow, rapid, and abnormal breathing.

What Are the Symptoms of Mouth Breathing?

Many people are unaware that they are breathing through their mouth rather than their nose, especially if it occurs while they are sleeping. However, some of the symptoms associated with mouth breathing include:

  • Snoring
  • A Dry Mouth
  • Bad Breath
  • A Hoarse Voice
  • Waking Up Tired
  • Chronic Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Dark Circles Under the Eyes

Mouth Breathing vs. Nose Breathing

While mouth breathing is sometimes unavoidable during strenuous exercise, when talking or singing, or when you’re sick, it’s best to avoid it as much as possible. The reason for this is that our noses act as a filter, warming the air we breathe in and producing nitric oxide.

It helps with oxygen distribution to the body, and it’s important for preserving lung health. When you breathe through your mouth, unfiltered, dehumidified air enters your lungs. Mouth breathing can strain your lungs, stress your body, and increase your susceptibility to infections.

Mouth Breathing & Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea is a type of sleep apnea caused by a blocked airway. When your airway is obstructed, mouth breathing is the only option. Breathing through your mouth causes your jaw to drop, further obstructing your nasal airway.

Snoring and sleep apnea are strongly linked to mouth breathing. Sleep disorders have been linked to a variety of serious diseases, including cardiovascular disease. If you have trouble sleeping, improving your oral posture may help.

What to Do if You Mouth Breathe While Asleep?

This may be difficult to correct, but it’s not impossible. Snoring is one of the side effects of nighttime mouth breathing. Sleep apnea is a more serious side effect of mouth breathing. When we are sick, we may mouth breathe at night.

Mouth breathing is encouraged in certain sleeping positions. If you frequently sleep on your back, try sleeping on your side or stomach to see if that improves your sleep. Your pillow could also be a source of concern: If your pillow is too soft, your neck and jaw may fall back and open.

The more you practice good oral posture during the day, the easier it will be to breathe through your nose while sleeping. Check your oral posture each night before going to bed: nose clear, mouth closed, tongue on the roof of the mouth, neck not retracted.

These simple steps will help you improve your oral health and well-being. Breathing properly is important to your long-term health, so don’t forget to take care of your mouth!

How Does Mouth Breathing Affect Your Life?

Many of us are stressed out, overworked, and overstimulated in our daily lives, which causes us to be in a constant state of fight or flight. Breathing in and out through the nose allows us to take fuller, deeper breaths, which stimulates the lower lung to distribute more oxygen throughout the body and allows us to fall asleep.

Furthermore, the lower lung is linked to our parasympathetic nervous system, which is in charge of calming the body and mind. Mouth breathing, on the other hand, is stimulated by the upper lungs, which causes the sympathetic nerve receptors to become hyperactive and prevents us from falling asleep. As a result, to compensate for sleepiness, our bodies produce adrenaline.

1. Facial Growth & Development

Air inhaled through the nose passes through the nasal mucosa, stimulating the reflex nerves that control breathing and assisting us in falling asleep. Mouth breathing bypasses the nasal mucosa, making regular breathing difficult, and can result in snoring, breath irregularities, and sleep apnea.

Human Growth Hormone is released during deep sleep, which is necessary for a child's brain development and long bone growth. In most cases, a child with an open mouth will grow up with flatter facial features, less prominent cheekbones, a longer face, droopier eyes and lower facial muscle tone, a narrower palate, and even a smaller lower jaw.

2. Oxygen & Sleep

mouth-breathing.jpgWhen adults and children breathe through their mouths during the day, it’s likely that they will also breathe through their mouths at night. Mouth breathing at night, combined with an obstructed airway, is a symptom of sleep apnea and altered levels of carbon dioxide and oxygen in the bloodstream.

When less oxygen is able to reach the brain, many children struggle with learning and focusing at school. Chronic fatigue, tiredness, and brain fog are common symptoms in adults.

3. Speech

When a child's mouth is open, he or she is more likely to struggle with certain speech sounds. A lisp, or the inability to pronounce "S" sounds correctly, is the most commonly associated speech problem.

When you have an open mouth, you also have what we call a "tongue thrust swallowing pattern," which may affect your speech. During speaking and swallowing, this swallowing pattern causes the tongue to protrude or push forward. Examine your mouth  for signs of a tongue tie or flared-out teeth.

What Are the Benefits of Nasal Breathing?

Nasal breathing has a number of advantages. This is due to the nose's complex filtering mechanism, which purifies the air we breathe before it enters our lungs. Breathing through our nose during inhalation helps maintain lung volumes and may indirectly determine arterial oxygenation. Other benefits include:

  • Our nose acts as a filter, retaining small particles in the air, including pollen.
  • To prevent dryness in our bronchial tubes and lungs, our nose adds moisture to the air.
  • Before reaching our lungs, our nose warms cold air to our body temperature.
  • Nasal breathing adds resistance to the air stream, which increases oxygen uptake by maintaining the elasticity of our lungs.

Mouth breathing, on the other hand, slows the cleaning cilia, slows the passage of oxygen into the bloodstream, draws germs and pollution directly into the lungs, and allows dry, cold air into the lungs, which can thicken secretions.

poor-posture-habits.jpgHow to Correct Your Posture and Reduce Mouth Breathing

The placement and resting position of your tongue in your mouth is referred to as proper tongue posture. And it turns out that proper tongue posture is more important than you might think.

In short, practice makes habits. The more you train and hold the proper oral posture, the easier it gets. This is due to the fact that when we use our muscles, they are designed to grow and become stronger. Your muscle memory will come in handy here. The more you practice, and train, the more natural proper oral posture becomes.

It's simple to start practicing at home if you want to improve your tongue posture. Throughout the day, try to be more aware of where your tongue is resting and practice proper tongue posture.

Here's a quick exercise to help you learn proper tongue posture:

  1. Place the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth, just above your top teeth, against the hard palate.
  2. Pull the rest of your tongue flat against the roof of your mouth with suction.
  3. Allow your mouth to close completely.
  4. Hold it in place while breathing normally (if possible).
  5. Repeat this several times throughout the day, particularly as you become more aware of how.

While your tongue posture may not appear to be particularly important to your overall health and well-being, there are a few advantages to learning the proper tongue resting position.

The potential benefits of good tongue posture include the possibility of having better-aligned teeth, as poor tongue posture can affect growing teeth. This can have a negative impact on their growth by obstructing the space into which they grow.

Furthermore, improper tongue posture can result in a narrower palate over time. Simply widening the palate can improve the upper airway, especially in children and young adults, as well as improve tongue posture and even reduce nasal obstruction in children with sleep apnea.

Correct My Tongue Thrust Program

The most effective way to eliminate tongue thrusting and reduce mouth breathing is to learn new habits through an exercise-based therapy program that strengthens your tongue muscles and teaches you how to swallow properly.

Janet Bennett, M.Ed., CCC-SLP, a speech pathologist with over 35 years of experience, created IJustWantTo® CorrectMyTongueThrust, a simple seven-week program. With a few simple exercises every day, the goal is to help you retrain your tongue to rest correctly in your mouth.

Check out our FAQ for more information on how our program of simple exercises can help you or your child, or stop by our store to get started right away. Our program provides you with the knowledge and tools you need to correct tongue thrust.

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.