Oral and systemic effects of breathing patterns: Nasal breathing vs. mouth breathing

A peer-reviewed article written by JanaLee R. Gustafson, RDH; Suzette Foster, BA, RDH; Kandice Swarthout, MS, RDH, LPC

Abstract

A growing body of evidence demonstrates that nasal breathing provides clear health advantages over mouth breathing. Nasal breathing delivers warm, filtered air to the body and serves as the first line of defense against pathogenic invasion by bacteria and viruses in the air. It provides positive effects of bronchodilation and vasodilation and increases beneficial nitric oxide production through the paranasal sinuses. Moreover, recent studies have determined dysfunctional mouth breathing may lead to dental and facial deformities such as increased facial height, mandibular plane, gonial angle, and malocclusion development. Other oral conditions negatively affected by mouth breathing include increased xerostomia levels, gingivitis, halitosis, and tooth decay. Additionally, systemic problems due to mouth breathing include declining cardiovascular health, low sleep quality, fatigue, systemic inflammation, poor academic performance, and declining emotional health.

Educational objectives

  1. Examine peer-reviewed studies regarding the implications of both nasal and mouth breathing
  2. Evaluate the quality of evidence provided
  3. Determine why nasal breathing is favored over mouth breathing in support of overall and oral health

mouth breathing

JANALEE R. GUSTAFSON, RDH, graduated from the dental hygiene program at Collin College. As a student, she served as treasurer of the student chapter of the South Carolina American Dental Hygienists’ Association (SCADHA). She plans to pursue a bachelor of science in dental hygiene at Texas Women’s University. Her most prized possession is her family. She also enjoys running and spending time at the lake on her SUP board or kayak.

mouth breathing

SUZETTE FOSTER, BA, RDH, earned her education degree from Queens College and taught kindergarten through fifth grade in public elementary schools within New York, New Jersey, and Florida. Passionate about learning and oral health and wellness, she embarked on a new journey and is now a practicing registered dental hygienist. In her free time, Suzette enjoys gardening and boating with her partner, Luke, while together raising their three boys in Prosper, Texas.

KANDICE SWARTHOUT, MS, RDH, LPC, is a licensed professional counselor, registered dental hygienist, and full-time dental hygiene educator in Texas. Kandice is the owner of Inspired Education & Wellness, where she is a speaker, writer, and private practice therapist. She combines her clinical dental and mental health experience to help other health-care professionals have a fulfilling work-life experience. Read her articles in Dentistry IQ, Today’s RDH, and her blog on Facebook, Fearless Compassion: Stories of Personal Triumph.

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