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The Benefits of Nose Breathing vs. Mouth Breathing

Medically reviewed by Kelly Fan, MD and Susan Kerrigan, MD on February 17, 2023

Breathing is a basic function that keeps us alive each moment of each day, and since it is such a natural function, we can often take it for granted. Clearly, those suffering from asthma, lung disease or other related health conditions do not take it for granted. Could there be unknown benefits to nose breathing versus mouth breathing?


According to the New York Times bestseller “Breath; The New Science of a Lost Art” by James Nestor, not breathing properly can have a drastic impact on your life.


Barring any ongoing related health conditions, we typically take air in and let it out repetitively about 25,000 times daily. Researchers have found that 30-50% of our population could be incurable mouthbreathers, and this appears to be more common in children.


While we shouldn’t really need instructions on how to breathe, it does appear that there is indeed a right and wrong way in terms of how our breathing affects our overall health and functionality. The pervasive school of thought is that breathing through the nose can prevent issues that more commonly affect mouth breathers such as snoring, bad breath, and quite possibly affect one’s lifespan.


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Nasal Obstruction - Signs & Symptoms

Nasal Obstruction - Signs & Symptoms

Mouth Breather vs. Nose Breather – What are some distinctions?


Let us discuss some general differences:


When breathing through the nose, nasal hair works to eliminate allergens, pollen, and dust. It can also act as a filter against toxic particles from entering the lungs, which may cause a variety of breathing problems. Inhaled air is moistened upon entering the nose and warmed to our body temperature, which the lungs can process much easier. In addition, breathing through the nose causes a discharge of nitric acid, serving as a vasodilator, helping to expand the blood vessels, resulting in optimal oxygen circulation throughout the body.


Mouth breathing, on the other hand, may be a result of sleep apnea, birth abnormalities such as cleft palate, choanal atresia, or Pierre Robin syndrome. It can become critical that mouth breathers learn to breathe through the nose, as over time this can have a very negative effect on sleep and the resulting fatigue associated with such sleep habits.


Nose Breather Vs. Mouth Breather – What are the benefits?


Benefits of nose breathing can include normal blood pressure levels, sound heart health, and a strong immune system.


Mouth breathing has been shown to cause a digestive issue known as aerophagia. This is a result of the air from the stomach entering the small intestine, causing intestinal pain, abdominal bloating and other symptoms of discomfort.


Mouth breathing can also cause the growth of harmful bacteria, as contaminants that enter through the mouth can begin growing as a result of the incoming air being warmed up, and can attach to the gums and teeth. Soft tissues in the mouth can become dry while the mouth remains open, causing swelling and bleeding gums. Although proper oral hygiene can address some of these issues, the real remedy is breathing through the nose.


3 Effective Tips For Promoting Nose Breathing


  1. Clearing the nose frequently: Keep nasal passages clear and clean; nasal washes are recommended.
  2. Reducing stress: When stressed, breathing can become hurried. Calm music, a relaxed environment or meditation can help induce hormones such as dopamine which act to reduce stress.
  3. Doing nose-breathing exercises: Alternate nostril breathing may help increase lung function while decreasing inflammation.


The Bottom Line


Mouth breathing may be bit of a default setting for some of us but it’s important to learn the health benefits that training our bodies to inhale and exhale properly can have on our health and longevity.


Written by Sherri Abergel

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