Marge Foran, RDH, COM

Certified Orofacial Myofunctional Therapist

(406) 431-3441

Nasal Breathing

Breath of Life

Information about Nasal breathing:  Humans are born obligate nasal breathers

  • The air is humidified, filtered and warmed to the proper temperature before entering the lungs

  • Is important for oral health – mouth breathing causes a drying effect of the gums promoting gum disease and cavities

  • Increases the sense of smell and taste

  • Optimizes oral facial growth. Mouth breathers often have narrow faces  * See note below about oral facial growth and development

  • Reduces swelling and congestion of nose tissues to keep nasal passages open

  • Reduces the volume of carbon dioxide (CO2) released during exhalation. CO2 is trapped in the sinuses.  CO2 dilates the airways and blood vessels and aids in the release and delivery of oxygen (O2)  ( known as the Bohr Effect)

  • Reduces anxiety

  • Reduces snoring

  • Nitric oxide is produced in the sinuses and available through nasal breathing

  • Nitric oxide is a powerful sterilizing agent which kills bacteria. Nitric oxide aides in smooth muscle relaxation this is the heart, lungs (bronchodilation – important for people with asthma), digestive tract to name a few

  • Promotes stabilization of orthodontic treatment by achieving correct oral facial rest posture with the tongue up, teeth slightly apart and lips together

* Nasal breathing is achieved with the tongue up.  The tongue is “Mother Nature’s” first palatal expander aiding in the development of a broad palate or roof of the mouth.  The palate is the floor of the nose. Most of the growth of the jaws is accomplished by age 8.  In ideal growth, the jaws should grow in a forward positon which helps to protect the airway.  With open mouth or mouth breathing the upper and lower jaws will become narrower and often dental crowding will be observed. This leads to what is called a long face.

Why is CO2 important?:The body requires a particular amount of CO2 to allow the release of O2 from the blood to the body’s tissues and organs. CO2 is lost quickly during mouth breathing or overbreathing, decreasing the amount of available O2.  Nasal breathing reduces the volume of CO2 released during exhalation, due to the trapping action of the sinus cavities.

What is chronic hyperventilation syndrome or overbreathing:

  • Most people have experienced stressful or frightening events that may cause rapid overbreathing and has been referred to as fight or flight. The breathing pattern will return to normal within a short period of time.

  • Some people may develop a subtle and habitual pattern of overbreathing where there is more O2 than the body requires, thus depleting the amount of necessary CO2. This is particularly true when people develop the habit of mouth breathing.  Causes of this may be inflamed tonsils and adenoids and/or allergies

How may myofunctional therapy help:

  • A primary focus of therapy is the establishment of nasal breathing. With further training therapists can teach patients reduced breathing through a method called Buteyko Breathing.

  • Often therapists work in a collaborative effort with other healthcare professionals such as ENTs and allergists to achieve optimal results.

Suggested Reading:


















Research supporting orofacial myofunctional therapy as an alternative or adjunctive therapy for sleep disordered breathing

Camacho M, Certal V, Abdullatif J, Zaghi S, et al (2014). Myofunctional Therapy to Treat Obstructive Sleep Apnea: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Sleep, October.
*CONCLUSION: Current literature demonstrates that myofunctional therapy decreases AHI by approximately 50% in adults and 62% in children. Lowest oxygen saturations, snoring, and sleepiness outcomes improve in adults. Myofunctional therapy could serve as an adjunct to other OSA treatments.

Guilleminault, C., Huang, Y., Monteyrol, P., Sato, R., Quo, S., &  Lin, C. (2013).  Critical role of myofascial reeducation in pediatric sleep-disordered breathing. Sleep med, Jun; 14 (6); 518-25.
*The researchers concluded that a lack of participation in orofacial myofunctional therapy (OMT) resulted in relapse of sleep disordered breathing symptoms demonstrating measurable changes in hypoxia and oxygen saturation levels in all non therapy subjects. Therefore, they concluded that although rarely considered as an adjunctive treatment to obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), OMT should be included in the protocol for the current treatment of pediatric sleep apnea. The researchers also conclude that oral exercises (OMT) should be considered as a necessary part of a comprehensive pediatric SDB protocol as adjunctive therapy to assist in proper oropharyngeal development. They concluded that OMT is beneficial to young children, as it helps encourage proper muscular tonus of the upper airway during the process of sleep.

Guimaraes, K.C., Drager, L.F., Genta, P.R., Marcondes, B.F.& Lorenzi-Filho, G.(2009). Effects of oropharyngeal exercises on patients with moderate obstructive sleep apnea syndrome. Am J Respir Crit Care Med, 179 (10), 962-966.
* Conclusion: Oropharyngeal exercises significantly reduce OSAS severity and symptoms and represent a promising treatment for moderate OSAS.

Pia Villa, M., Brasili, L., Ferretti, A., Vitelli, O., et al, (2014). Oropharyngeal exercises to reduce symptoms of OSA after AT. Sleep med, Mar: 19 (1): 281-9.
*Oropharyngeal exercises may be considered as complementary therapy to adenotonsillectomy to effectively treat pediatric OSA

Additional Information:

Allergies- skin rashes, allergic shiners (due to blood pooling under the eyes as a result of nasal and sinus congestion. Dairy and wheat are common food allergens. Follow this link for more information Food Allergies and Food Sensitivities: What You Need To Know

Dr. Steven Park has a website with many podcasts addressing airway issues including sleep and breathing.

This is a link to an article about Breathing, Crooked Teeth and Health

Here is a thorough blog on the subject of breathing by a collegeaue

Bonuck, K., Freeman, K., Chervin, R., & Xu, L., (2012). Sleep-Disordered Breathing in a Population-Based Cohort: Behavioral Out at 4 and 7 Years.  Pediatrics; Apr;129(4):e857-65.
*This is a comprehensive study which evaluated 11,000 children over a six year period. The study found that young children with sleep-disordered breathing are prone to developing behavioral difficulties such as hyperactivity and aggressiveness, as well as emotional symptoms and difficulty with peer relationships.

Please view the following YouTube Video –   Finding Connor Deegan….

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