AIRWAY & MOUTH BREATHING ASSESSMENTS

Airway & Mouth Breathing Assessments

Raise the Levels of Retained CO2


The nose has very specific functions in the breathing process.

• The hairs provide a 'filter-net' to trap suspended particles and prevent them from entering the airways.
• The mucus contains an enzyme, lysozyme, which kills living organisms and prevents infection of the airways.
• The bridge of the nose acts as a natural regulator and restricts the amount of air that can be inhaled in any single breath. This allows the correct measure of air to reach the lungs.
• The sinuses control temperature and humidity.
• The adenoids and tonsils provide further filtration.

Consequently, when a mouth-breather sucks large volumes of unfiltered, unsterilized and unconditioned air into the airways, several reactions occur:

• The airways become irritated, resulting in sneezing or coughing.
• This forced expulsion of air greatly increases the amount of CO2 exhaled, and as CO2 is primarily responsible for preventing spasm of smooth muscle, spasm occurs.
• Foreign matter enters the airways, causing an immune cascade response.
• If the patient has any breathing disorder such as asthma, an attack can occur.
• Viruses and bacteria enter the system, causing URT infections.
• The increased flow of air through the mouth changes the pH of the saliva, diminishing its bactericidal capabilities. This is a significant contributor to the process of decay as well as mouth and throat infections.
• The large volumes of untreated air passing over the sensitive tissues of the throat irritate the adenoids and tonsils, causing them to become inflamed and to swell. This can rapidly become a chronic situation, resulting in a cyclical process of URT infection - stress - hyperventilation - infection, etc.

By restoring nasal breathing, it is possible to reverse the situation and to eliminate the associated side effects and problems. 

This is achieved by teaching the patient a series of breathing exercises which are designed to raise the levels of retained CO2 in the body and in so doing, sending a message to the brain that all is well again and that the trigger can return to normal.

In addition, specific attention is paid to the origins of the dysfunctionality and strategies put in place to avoid the situation recurring.
The Benefits

By restoring nasal breathing as the norm, the following benefits will accrue:

1. Dental health will improve. 
2. Treatment will take place with less interruption, as there will be fewer coughs, colds, throat infections, etc. to delay progress. 
3. Relapse will be significantly reduced as correct tongue position provides a 'natural retainer' that can't be forgotten or lost.
4. Associated problems such as difficulty with swallowing and talking will improve. 
5. Overall health will be improved: less tension, better concentration, etc. 
6. Smooth muscle throughout the body will again function normally, bringing relief from such diverse disorders as gastric reflux, irritable bowel syndrome and respiratory problems such as asthma, sinusitis, bronchitis, etc. 
7. Sleep patterns will improve as there will no longer be the need for the brain to interpose apnoea periods in an attempt to normalize CO2 levels.

Mouth Breathing & Dental Problems


Chronic mouth breathing has long been a concern for dentists and orthodontists due to the problems it causes or contributes to: 

• Forward head posture (neck muscle pain, stiffness, fatigue and cervical joint damage) 
• Headache • Elongated face • Malocclusion, anterior open bite • TMJ dysfunction 
• Gum disease • Reduced dental arch space & increased crowding of teeth • Dental decay 
• Dry mouth and throat • Increased allergen/infection entry to lungs • Chronic tonsil swelling 
• Enlarged adenoids, polyps • Noisy breathing, noisy eating • Bad breath 
• Snoring, apnoea • Greater potential for relapse of orthodontic correction  
• Increased mucus production • Hypocapnia

How to tell if you are breathing too much?

• Can you hear yourself breathe? • Do you ever breathe through your mouth? 
• Do you sigh, yawn, sneeze, wheeze or snore? • Do you cough or blow your nose? 
• Do you awake with a dry mouth? • Do you get short of breath? 
• Can you feel your upper chest move? • Do you breathe more than 14 times a minute?
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