Do you or anyone in your family find it hard to sleep at night? Are you waking up irritable in the morning due to that lack of sleep? Have you ever considered the possibility that the problem may be the way that you breathe?

Specifically, the problem you may be facing is that you are a mouth breather!

For some people, the first task to work past when dealing with mouth breathing is the attitude that it is not a big deal. Breathing through the mouth for a short time period after physical exertion may not be problematic.

However, regular, prolonged mouth breathing is a real problem!

For instance, consistent breathing through the mouth can result in the facial muscles developing in an abnormal way to accommodate the breathing style. This stress on the muscles can cause headaches in the short term, and can even lead to facial deformities over an extended period of time.

People who breathe through the mouth are more likely to have inflamed tonsils. This can cause something of a vicious circle as the more inflamed the tonsils become, the more they close the airway for the mouth breather, possibly resulting in further disruptions to the breathing pattern.

Mouth breathing can also cause inflammation of the gums. This may result in gingivitis or bad breath.

Of course, sleep disorders may be the most serious problem associated with mouth breathing. Proper sleep is vital to allow our body time to heal and repair itself. If mouth breathing is impairing your sleep, your body may not be getting the rejuvenation it requires from a good night’s sleep.

When we are looking at young children, lack of sleep can lead to developmental issues and behavioural problems. The behavioural issues in some such children have been mistaken for ADHD and children have been prescribed unnecessary medication as a result.

Your dentist may be able to spot the signs of mouth breathing. Inflammation of the tonsils or gums may be a sign that you or your child suffer from this problem. A referral to an ear, nose and throat specialist may be necessary to determine if tonsils may have to be removed.

Otherwise, your dentist might be able to solve the problem with an appliance that will encourage more healthy breathing through the nose. The exact remedy you require will vary depending upon the severity of the problem. You can discuss this with your dentist and any other appropriate health care professional.

If you suspect mouth breathing may be a problem for you, discuss it with your dentist. It may be quite simple to correct and the sleep you get as a result will be well worth it. Because a good night’s sleep is a healthy habit…and healthy habits lead to healthy lives.

Dr. Peter Georgopoulos

Dental Surgeon