The human nose is perfectly designed with the function of respiration in mind, while the mouth is not. Despite this, many of us still unconsciously breathe through our mouths, and the long term effects of this kind of breathing can be quite detrimental to our health. Let’s explore why nose breathing is better than mouth breathing, and take a look at how we can effectively combat negative mouth breathing habits. 

Why Do We Breathe From the Mouth?

We all know the frustration that comes with having the flu; headaches, body pain, fatigue, and congestion. You’ll also remember that during these periods of poor health, you’ve probably had to resort to mouth breathing. This is perfectly normal as it’s one of the body's many back-up plans– a practical response to a severely congested nasal cavity. 

The problem is, many of us still mouth breath, even when we are not sick. Here are a few reasons that contribute to a mouth breathing habit:  

  • Mouth breathing habits often start at a young age. A child may continue to mouth breathe after a prolonged stint of flu.  
  • Alignment issues in a person's jaw may prevent them from closing their mouth. This might also encourage mouth breathing. 
  • Structural issues in a person's nose like a deviated septum can make nasal breathing more difficult. 
  • Persistent allergies that lead to congestion can also be a reason that a person chooses to mouth breathe. 

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Why Nose Breathing is Better than Mouth Breathing? 

The nose is designed with the primary function of respiration in its blueprint, unlike the mouth which is built for eating, drinking, and communicating. In a clinical review, Dr. Alan Ruth outlines the importance of breathing through the nose:

  • The nose acts as a filtration system, trapping unwanted particles in the nose hairs and mucous membrane. This system aids in the prevention of colds and flu. 
  • Our noses warm and moisten the air we breathe, making respiration easier for the lungs. 
  • Our nasal sinuses also secrete nitric oxide during inhalation which is aimed at increasing the transport of oxygen throughout the body. Nitric oxide is both a vasodilator, and a bronchodilator, meaning that it speeds up circulation, and relaxes the muscles in the lungs to make breathing more effective. 
  • Breathing through the nose also activates the parasympathetic nervous system. When this happens we feel calmer, heart rate slows, and digestion occurs. 

It's abundantly clear that breathing through the nose is the correct mode of respiration, and that breathing in this way is beneficial for us too. Mouth breathing can be hard to avoid at times, but let’s take a look at some of the reasons why we should think more seriously about breaking a mouth breathing habit. 

The Disadvantages of Mouth Breathing 

Sabrina Magid-Katz, a leading practitioner in sleep dentistry, and sleep related disorders, stresses the importance of nasal breathing, particularly during sleep. 

Magid-Katz explains that when you breathe through your mouth, you take in a large amount of air, but your body can’t effectively make use of the oxygen it needs compared to when you breathe through your nose. When this happens you start to breathe more rapidly as your body tries its best to hunt for oxygen, and ultimately, you end up feeling stressed. 

Here are some of the negative effects of chronic mouth breathing on a person's health according to Magid-Katz:

  • Mouth breathing causes a dry mouth which negatively affects the acidity level and bacterial make-up of the mouth. 
  • Mouth breathing also promotes dental problems such as: gum disease, tooth decay, and halitosis (bad breath). 
  • Breathing dry, dehumidified air, through the mouth causes inflammation, which blocks the airway. During sleep, the blockage of this airway leads to Obstructive Sleep Apnea
  • Snoring is another negative side effect of mouth breathing.  

Breathing through the mouth might be something you’ve been doing without noticing for some time, fortunately, you can practice nasal breathing from the comfort of your own home, and make some positive benefits to your overall health. 

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Practice Nasal Breathing with Oxa

The pace, pattern, and training of nasal breathing can be self-taught, or better yet, optimized through the use of a guided biofeedback wearable. 

If you’re concerned about a potential mouth breathing habit, or simply want to take control of your breath, Oxa has the tips and tools you need to reap the benefits of your breath. Oxa is a biofeedback wearable that is aimed towards improving sleep, and reducing stress. 

The most impressive part of it all is that it gives you real-time feedback on your vitals, enabling you to achieve a state of resonance, and track your progress over time. 

The wearable works like a personalized breathing coach, and comes with a host of exercises and articles that’ll help you educate yourself on how to benefit from your breath. 

Takeaways

There’s no argument to be had in the case of how to breathe correctly. Nasal breathing will always be the preferred mode of respiration, and brings with it an array of positive health benefits. 

Mouth breathing should only be necessary in situations where the nasal cavity is congested or due to structural issues. It is advised to contact a healthcare professional if you are experiencing chronic mouth breathing. 

FAQs

Q: Why do we sometimes breathe through our mouths?

Sometimes, we breathe through the mouth due to congestion in the nose that prevents us from breathing properly. In certain cases, mouth breathing may occur due to structural issues in the jaw, or nose, that prevent proper nasal breathing. 

Q: Why is nose breathing better than mouth breathing?

The nose is the body’s primary mode of respiration, and has been specifically designed for this purpose, while the mouth is more suited towards eating, and speaking. Breathing through the nose releases nitric oxide, which makes breathing easier for the lungs by relaxing our muscles, and widening our blood vessels, ultimately increasing oxygenation throughout the body. 

Q: What are the disadvantages of mouth breathing?

The disadvantages of mouth breathing include; decreased oxygenation, gum disease, dental issues, bad breath, and sleep related issues. Your lungs aren’t able to effectively make use of the oxygen you breathe through your mouth, which leads you to breathe more rapidly, and become stressed. 

Q: How can I practice nasal breathing?

Nasal breathing can be practiced from the comfort of your own home using techniques such as square breathing. You can also use Oxa to teach yourself a variety of different nose breathing techniques. 

Hakima Tantrika
Published:
July 1, 2024

MA, RYT 500, and ICF-certified coach is a holistic physical and mental health writer and educator. With global recognition, she's enriched over 2 million readers through her blog and shaped 800+ instructors worldwide. Fluent in four languages, Hakima blends extensive knowledge and a rich multicultural insight, making her a distinguished authority in the wellness sphere.

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