skip to main content
Why Nose Breathing Is Superior to Mouth Breathing

Why Nose Breathing Is Superior to Mouth Breathing

Friday, February 17, 2023

Take a deep breath. You probably haven't thought about the process of breathing today until you read that sentence. Yet, we take upwards of 22,000 breaths every day! 


How Breathing Works

Breathing is a complex process that involves the movement of air into and out of the lungs. The process starts when the diaphragm, a large muscle located at the base of the lungs, contracts and flattens. This creates negative pressure in the chest cavity, causing air to be drawn into the lungs. 

The air then travels through the nose or mouth and into the trachea, which branches into smaller tubes called bronchi that lead to the individual air sacs in the lungs called alveoli. Here, oxygen is exchanged for carbon dioxide through diffusion across the thin walls of the alveoli and blood vessels. 

To exhale, the diaphragm relaxes and returns to its original position, increasing pressure in the chest and forcing air out of the lungs through the trachea and nose or mouth. This continuous cycle of inhaling and exhaling oxygen and carbon dioxide ensures proper oxygenation of the body's tissues and elimination of waste.

With something so complex, we want to make sure it’s working correctly. However, one study says that as many as 61% of Americans breathe through their mouths. In this article, we’re talking about why nose-breathing is preferred over mouth-breathing, and how you can potentially become a nose-breather.

Defining Mouth Breathing

Mouth breathing is a condition in which an individual breathes primarily through their mouth instead of their nose. This can be due to a variety of causes, including nasal congestion, structural abnormalities, or habit. Mouth breathing can have negative impacts on oral health, as it can lead to dry mouth, bad breath, and an increased risk of cavities. 

Reasons Nose Breathing Is Vastly Superior to Mouth Breathing

Nose breathing is generally considered to be better than mouth breathing for several reasons:

  • Moisturizes and warms the air: When air is breathed in through the nose, it is filtered, warmed, and moisturized before it reaches the lungs. This can help to prevent dryness and irritation in the airways, which can be particularly beneficial for people with asthma, allergies, or other respiratory conditions.
  • Increases oxygenation: The nose is designed to help increase the amount of oxygen that is taken in with each breath. The nasal passages are lined with tiny hairs called cilia that filter out particles and bacteria, as well as mucus-secreting glands that humidify the air. This helps to increase the oxygenation of the blood, which can improve overall health and energy levels.
  • Improves lung function: Nose breathing helps to strengthen the muscles that control breathing and can improve lung function. This can help to reduce the risk of respiratory problems such as asthma, bronchitis, and emphysema.
  • Enhances the immune system: The nasal passages are lined with immune cells that help to protect the body against harmful pathogens, viruses, and bacteria. When air is breathed in through the nose, these immune cells are activated and can help to prevent infections and illnesses.
  • Reduces stress: nose breathing slows down your breathing rate and increases the amount of oxygen in your bloodstream. This can help to reduce stress and anxiety and promote relaxation and calmness.

It's worth noting that sometimes mouth breathing is necessary, for example, when doing heavy physical activity or when the nose is blocked. But in general, it's recommended to breathe through the nose as much as possible.

Negative Effects of Mouth Breathing

Mouth breathing can have several negative effects on both oral and overall health. Some of these effects include:

  1. Dry mouth: Mouth breathing can reduce saliva production, leading to dry mouth, which can increase the risk of cavities and gum disease.
  2. Bad breath: Dry mouth and the accumulation of bacteria in the mouth can lead to bad breath.
  3. Oral health problems: Mouth breathing can cause or exacerbate problems with the teeth, gums, and jaws, including misaligned teeth, jaw pain, and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders.
  4. Sleep disorders: Mouth breathing can lead to sleep-disordered breathing, such as sleep apnea, which can cause snoring, choking, and interrupted sleep.
  5. Speech problems: Mouth breathing can affect speech, as it can alter the position of the lips, tongue, and jaw, leading to speech impediments.
  6. Respiratory issues: Mouth breathing can contribute to respiratory problems such as asthma and bronchitis, as it reduces the filtering and moisturizing of air that occurs in the nasal passages.
  7. Poor athletic performance: Mouth breathing can reduce the oxygen supply to the body and reduce athletic performance.

Can mouth breathing be corrected?

How Tongue Thrust Can Lead to Mouth Breathing

Tongue thrust is a condition where the tongue pushes against a person’s teeth when swallowing or at rest. Over time, this can lead to concerns like mouth breathing. 

Tongue thrust can cause or contribute to mouth breathing in several ways. The tongue-thrusting habit can cause the mouth to remain open, leading to mouth breathing. Additionally, the tongue can obstruct the airway during speech or swallowing, causing the individual to breathe through their mouth to overcome the obstruction.

Correcting tongue thrust can improve oral health and reduce the likelihood of mouth breathing by helping to reposition the tongue and retrain the muscle memory. This, in turn, can improve the clarity and sound of speech and lead to better sleep and overall health.

Our seven-week program helps retrain the tongue’s position in the mouth to eliminate tongue thrust. When you purchase our program, you get the following:

  1. You will get seven weekly lessons with 3-5 different tongue exercises to train you to swallow a NEW way. This NEW way of swallowing will become a NEW habit. This is an online product.
  2. Online support videos will show you how to do the exercises. The easy exercises are explained in detail, and they do not hurt. Two videos are included for each week – Instructions and a “perform it with the therapist” version.
  3. One patented Tongue Stick™ and “Reminder” bracelet will be mailed to you, helping with performing the exercises.
  4. Personal email & chat access to the author.

If you’re ready to correct your tongue thrust and start the process of becoming a nose-breather again, you can purchase our program online here!

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.