Did you know the primary job of the mouth is eating and speaking (high five you knew it)? Did you know the primary job of the nose is smelling and respiration (smelling you knew it, but respiration? Maybe)? Wow! That is a huge responsibility on the nose, BREATHING, taking in the good stuff (oxygen) and letting out the bad (carbon dioxide).
I know what you are thinking, “Can I not get more of the good stuff if I breathe through my mouth which is bigger?” That would make sense but using your mouth to breathe actually has negative impacts on your body and health. When you breathe through the mouth, the quality of the air is less. The nose ‘knows’ how to clean and filter the air you breathe and regulate the humidity and temperature of the air (For your information- your lungs do not like dry cold air).
“Anything else?” I am glad you asked. Continuous mouth breathing can change the shape and structure of your face, jaw, palate, and airway. When you breathe through your nose, the oral structures are in the correct resting posture (tongue up and suctioned to the roof, lips together, jaw relaxed). Here’s the benefit to using the correct resting posture- the palate grows the way it is supposed to (out not narrow), the airway develops it should (breathing is very important to health), and the lips and jaw maintain strength (very important for speech and swallowing).
One more thing, continuous mouth breathing can also result in sleep disordered breathing (Apnea in kids). If the structure of the mouth and airway have been changed due to mouth breathing, your child may not get sufficient oxygen during sleep which can cause serious health issues (allergies, crowded teeth, overbite, tongue thrust, swollen adenoids and tonsils, behavioral issues, and delayed growth).So, go ahead, “take a deep breath in through your nose,” (how many times have we heard that?). Enjoy the sense of smell and know you are supporting growth and health.
Written by: Ashlee Nealis, M.ED, CCC/SLP