Knoxville and Maryville, TN
Even with all the advances in medical science and technology, some of the best advice and methods still can be taken from the past.
More than 150 years ago, in 1860 to be precise, George Catlin wrote a book about the lifestyle and health of Native Americans. After giving up an unsatisfying career as a lawyer, Catlin hit the road and spent three decades traveling and living with 150 different tribes. The title of the book he wrote, “Shut Your Mouth (… and Save Your Life),” still rings true today that breathing through the nose—rather than the mouth—is more beneficial to oral health and overall health.
“An Indian child is not allowed to sleep with its mouth open,” Catlin wrote, also noting that practice was common among every tribe he visited. Native Americans achieved this by having infants sleep on their backs, tied to a board with a cushion placed under the head and pushing it forward. This position kept the mouth from involuntarily opening during sleep.
Catlin also was impressed by the high level of oral health in many of the tribes he observed. He wrote of their teeth as “regular as the keys of a piano” even though these tribes did not have dentists or anything close to the current regimen of oral hygiene practices of that time.
He also observed that, in every tribe he visited and observed, tribe members breathed through their nose whether they were awake or asleep while Europeans and Westerners often breathed through the mouth. In Catlin’s opinion, this difference in methods of breathing also played the greatest factor in the overall strength and health of Native Americans compared to the health issues and short lifespans of those in “civilized” society.
Catlin also praised the diet of Native Americans, which consisted mostly of nutrient-dense foods that encouraged the development of wide faces with broad nostrils, thus promoting maximum airway capacity from the nose to the lungs.
Modern medical science agrees with Catlin’s conclusions. Recent research shows that half of the population of the Western world breathes in the “incorrect” manner, i.e., through the mouth. Furthermore, more than 80 percent of four-year-olds in our society breathe regularly through the mouth, which can affect proper development of the face and teeth and literally alter the way a child looks. The consequences of mouth breathing can range from bad breath to the development of a sleep breathing disorder such as sleep apnea.
Nasal breathing, on the other hand, benefits the body. The more shallow breaths that come through the nose increase the quantity of nitric oxide in the blood, which kills bacteria. Nitric oxide also increases oxygen capacity, fostering a stronger connection develops the heart, lungs, and nervous system.
Myofunctional therapy in Maryville
Looking to change the way you breathe? If you or a member of your family is breathing frequently through the mouth, the consequences could include the development of a sleep breathing disorder such as sleep apnea. In children, mouth breathing could alter facial growth and development, changing their looks or the way they eat and speak. For any patient of any age who breathes through the mouth, the staff at Crestview Dental Care can help by prescribing a course of myofunctional therapy. Consisting of a series of simple, pain-free exercises that work the mouth, face, and tongue, myofunctional therapy “re-trains” the orofacial system, encouraging an ideal oral resting posture with lips together, teeth together, and the tongue resting gently against the roof of the mouth. Once this posture is achieved, a person is far more likely to breathe through the nose, as doctors—and Catlin—have preferred.
To learn more about mouth breathing and its possible consequences, contact the Crestview Dental Care office at (865) 982-1700 to learn more or schedule a consultation.
Crestview Dental Care is here to serve patients in the areas of Maryville and Knoxville in Tennessee.