Nitric Oxide, released only when breathing through the nose, is anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal and could be key.
Nose breathing makes your body more resistant to viruses, bacteria, and fungi.
Well, we can add this to the already prodigious list of reasons why breathing through the nose is vastly superior over breathing through the mouth. This may sound reckless but if you are a chronic mouth breather it’s like you are a smoker…in many ways it may be worse.
As a dentist who treats TMJ and sleep disordered breathing I can’t say enough about the negative impacts of chronic mouth breathing.
In our current modern society we are seeing more and more people who are chronic mouth breathers. The reasons people breathe through their mouths is because they can’t breathe through their noses. Their upper airway is blocked due to allergies, enlarged turbinates, enlarged tonsils, deviated septums, etc.. There is a clear reason why the modern world has more mouth breathers than our primal predeccessors. The nose is uniquely designed to be the exclusive breathing organ…the mouth, by contrast, is not a breathing portal…the mouth has it’s own unique functions but breathing is not one of them. It’s a horrible substitute.
Chronic mouth breathing has a profoundly negative impact on General Health.
Due to industrialization of our society and widespread processing of our foods we are seeing increased allergens in our air and in our food sources which create heightened immune responses which, in turn, cause swelling in the sinuses and swelling of the tonsils and adenoids, etc.. This will block our airways and provoke chronic mouth breathing. Chronic mouth breathing will, in turn, promote crowded teeth, a narrow upper archform (which collapses our sinuses further), a retruded lower jaw and overall facial deformity. As a result, our jaws are getting smaller. We have less room for our tongues. Skulls studied by anthropologists reveal that our ancestral jaws were much different than what we have now in our modern society. Crowded teeth and retruded lower jaws didn’t exist in primal man. Jaws were broad and airways were unobstructed. Reason: They all breathed through their noses. Nose breathing promotes proper facial growth and proper development of the airway.
Here is what happens when you are breathing through your nose (with the lips together)
Air taken in through the nose is:
- Delivered at much more positive pressure which allows it to access the deepest parts of the lungs
- Supplemented with Nitric Oxide which allows for more complete absorption of oxygen. Therefore, you get more oxygen saturation if you breathe through your nose.
- Air intake through the nose is supplemented with Nitric oxide which is also an anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal. It helps to fight disease.
Breathing through the mouth:
- Drys the mouth and exacerbates the swelling of already large tonsils
- No air filtration
- No nitric oxide release from paranasal sinuses (which have anti-viral, bacterial qualities)
- Air delivered with lower Oxygen saturation and into the higher parts of the lungs. Oxygen inhalation is more shallow
- Causes very negative distortion in your jaws, crowding of teeth, retrusion of the lower jaw which will increase the likelihood of sleep disordered breathing.
Sleep disordered breathing in children creates a much greater risk for children to develop behavioral issues such as:
- lowering of the IQ (due to chronic hypoxia)
Now, here is an additional characteristic of Nitric Oxide which has application to Covid-19.
Nitric Oxide has anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal properties that give your body increased resistance to many diseases and maladies.
There is a study going on right now to determine if Covid-19 affects a disproportionate percentage of chronic mouth breathers vs. nose breathers. I think we will find that people who breathe through their noses are healthier and more resistant to ALL diseases. After all, someone breathing through the nose is going to take in more highly saturated oxygen than a mouth breather. It’s not even close. They will sleep better and get more replenishing sleep. Make no mistake, Oxygen is the most important nutrient for the body. We can’t be without it for more than a couple minutes without developing brain damage. Why then wouldn’t we fight for the highest and most sustainable oxygen quality we can find.
Chronic mouth breathing has a profoundly negative impact on general health. If you are a chronic mouth breather your teeth will crowd, your upper arch form will narrow, your lower jaw will drop back and your likelihood of TMJ and sleep apnea will go up dramatically. Someone with sleep apnea is 23X more likely to have a heart attack. Stroke risk increases.
I strongly recommend that if your child is a mouth breather (please observe them for open mouth posture and observe them at night for disturbed breathing) then take them to a pediatric ENT asap. It may be the best health decision you ever made for your child. In addition, see a Myofunctional Therapist to help your child develop proper oral posture. Our area has one of the foremost authorities on Myofuncitonal therapy in the country, Her name is Joy Moeller and she is in Pacific Palisades.
I feel strongly that we should be spending much more time with ENT’s and myofunctional therapists. Protect our jaws, protect our airways. There is probably nothing more valuable in your body than your airway. It brings life….make sure it is not obstructed and make sure that the air it carries has the highest saturation of oxygen. Make sure it is delivered through the nose!
Ways to become a nose breather:
- See an ENT (Ear, nose, and throat doctor)
- address allergies and enlarged tonsils
- use Breathe Rite strips and mouth tape
- expand narrow arch forms
Food for thought!