A few days ago, I was scrolling through Instagram, when I saw a short video of a woman flushing out her child’s sinuses. I read the caption quickly and she was a nurse who said that doing this regularly for children and adults was important for both respiratory and oral health.
It kind of resonated with me. During both my pregnancies, I ended up with the usual stuffy nose that is often present during pregnancy and got into the habit of breathing through my mouth when I slept. I knew that this probably wasn’t good for my breath or my snoring, but a while later, when I was hired to write an article for a dental practice down south, I kind of fell down a rabbit hole of learning about why correct breathing and chewing are really important for your overall health and how, as a society, we’re not actually doing it properly.
I know what you’re thinking, I know how to breathe and chew. I’ve been doing it forever. Well, yes and no. In his book Breath, author James Nestor looks at how modern diets are much softer than they used to be. They require less chewing and can result in limiting the development of your jaw and bone structure in the mouth.
Here are some tips to get you started.
Practice Breathing Through Your Nose
Mouth breathing is also becoming more prevalent, bringing with it issues of its own. Your body is designed to breathe through your nose, which filters out various germs and particles before they enter your body.
Mouth breathing can affect your oral health too. Breathing through your mouth a night dries up your natural saliva, which can lead to sores and tooth decay as well as bad breath and snoring.
You might think that breathing through your mouth gets more oxygen into your system, but that’s not always the case, especially if you’re exercising. It may feel a little weird at first like you’re not getting enough air, but with a little practice, it will begin to feel natural. If you’ve problems with your sinuses or allergies, it might be a good idea to get something to clear them out so you can breathe more easily.
Give Your Jaw A Workout
As I mentioned earlier, soft foods in our diet can affect how our bones develop. Keep your jaw active by chewing sugar-free gum regularly. This also has the added benefit of keeping your teeth healthy and breath fresh too.
Jaw development in humans has changed in just the last few hundred years alone. Our mouths are smaller (which is why overcrowded teeth are more common). Using sugar-free gum is an easy way to exercise these muscles and ensure that our jaws develop and remain strong, the way they were meant to. I usually always have some in my bag or in the car as I find chewing sugar-free gum great for keeping my mouth feeling fresh and also I read that it can be good for stress relief too. So think of it as a work-out for your jaw. If only all exercise plans were that easy.
When you’re eating, try and choose foods with different textures. Chew consciously, taking your time over each bite.
Learn To Breathe In A Controlled Way
Overbreathing is another common thing that a lot of us do, and it’s unnecessary in a lot of cases. This type of breathing actually puts stress on your system. Many cultures practice conscious breathing to control their respiratory system. For a few minutes a day, practice inhaling for 5 seconds and exhaling for 5 seconds. It may feel weird at first, but it’s beneficial to your lung capacity and can also work as a form of meditation too, helping you with anxiety and calmness.
There’s a lot of great info out there on chewing and breathing, and how they can benefit your overall health.
Book – James Nestor – Breath
Podcast – The Adiel Gorel Show
Article – Jaw and teeth development in children