Dysfunctional Breathing

Dysfunctional breathing can have a lasting effect on not only your oral health, but also your overall health.

How dysfunctional breathing can affect you

We all assume that if we are still alive, we must know how to breathe correctly. In fact, the prevalence of dysfunctional breathing is far higher than one would expect, with around 60% of the population breathing incorrectly.

Nasal breathing is the right way to breathe, as we are healthier in so many ways if we breathe through our nose rather than our mouth. Chronic mouth breathing is associated with mouth breathing disorders as well as a whole host of other serious health issues and does reduce life expectancy.

Sure, if we have a cold, we are forced to breathe through our mouth, but this should be the only time. Breathing through our nose filters the air, warms it, moisturises it and, most importantly, mixes it with the Nitric Oxide that we produce in our sinuses.

What does Nitric Oxide do?

It assists in the uptake of oxygen and the expiring of excess carbon dioxide, and opens the blood vessels especially in our heart and our brain. We have probably all heard someone say, take a deep breath. We assume that is to calm us down and get over a tense moment. Funnily enough, this well-intended advice is the exact opposite of what we need.

How Dental Sleep Medicine can help with over breathing

At Dental Sleep Medicine, we may also strongly advise a TeleHealth Consultation with a breathing therapist, as seen in the video below, to help patients with dysfunctional breathing. 

Cathy Boyce will not only teach us how to breathe correctly but set us up with the correct posture to reduce Orofacial, TMJ and neck pain as well as improve lung function.

This small investment in our health may be a real turning point for a better quality of life, and quantity.

Most of us over-breathe

It is hard to over-breathe through the nose and nasal passages, but easy through the mouth. We also assume we need to get rid of the carbon dioxide from our lungs and exchange it for oxygen.

As it turns out, we actually need to have about 5% carbon dioxide left in our lungs for the correct amount of oxygen to be absorbed through the alveolar air sacs in our lungs. This is taken up by the haemoglobin in our red blood cells in the capillary vessels around our lung alveoli. This is known as the Bohr Effect, and this is also where nose-breathing comes in.

Nose breathing

When we breathe through our nose, our diaphragm contracts and sucks air into the respiratory muscles which are in the deep parts of our lungs where these air sacs (alveoli) do the gas exchange. Mouth-breathing, by elevating our ribs and our shoulders rising, does not allow the air to fully reach these air sacs, where the oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange in the correct ratio occurs.

Over-breathing flushes out far too much carbon dioxide and actually reduces the amount of oxygen that is taken up in our red blood cells which are sent around our bodies before returning to our hearts.

This lower oxygen and richer carbon dioxide haemoglobin from our body is then recirculated through our pulmonary arteries that branch out into the capillaries around the air sacs in the lung, where the whole process of gas exchange occurs again.

Shallow breathing into our tummies (diaphragmatic breathing) is actually better for us. When we are engaged in very heavy physical activity, we will likely also suck in air through our mouthes but this should be the only time we mouth-breathe. (With the exception of scuba or snorkel diving)

Over breathing in anxiety and panic attacks.

Over breathing and hyperventilating is the most notable factor in both anxiety and panic attacks. When we look at airway issues,and suspect that our patients are likely to be mouth-breathing, we will often recommend a consultation with an ENT Specialist to inspect our airways, and will often make a referral.

Sometimes we just need a simple nasal spray to open up inflamed airways in our nose. Sometimes we may suggest simple devices like Breathe-Right strips or little nose “cones” to open our nostrils just a little for our sleep.

Dysfunctional breathing treatments in Cairns

In addition to assisting with dysfunctional breathing, Dental Sleep Medicine in Cairns can also assist with various other oral health and dentistry needs. From general dental to orthodontic treatments and everything in between, we are able to help you.

For more information on our range of treatments and how we can assist with dysfunctional breathing, contact us today to book an appointment by clicking here.