A funny thing happened the other day—my husband and I attended a band and orchestra performance at our teenager’s high school, and as I watched these beautiful teenagers march into formations as they played their instruments to inspiring music, I was so proud and these kids were clearly having fun. But one thing kept distracting me. Originally trained as a ballet dancer, I had learned long ago that posture is everything! As I panned out to the entire group, I noticed that “forward head” position everywhere I looked. As each section took their breather, I noticed the long faces and open mouths. Those kids were mouth breathers!
What’s so wrong with mouth breathing, though? A small amount of mouth breathing is normal if you have a cold or during strenuous exercise. But when we are at rest, there are several reasons mouth breathing is bad for us—most importantly, it is a symptom of lack of oxygen, also known as airway issues. It is a major sign the body is not getting enough oxygen.
Every Breath You Take
Anthropologists are telling us that the human skull is getting smaller and narrower, teeth are coming in more crooked than 30–40 years ago, asthma and allergies are at an all-time high, and teeth grinding is rampant—not to mention the high blood pressure, autism, ADHD, learning disabilities, concentration issues, and overall school performance issues that are related to our shrinking skulls and elongated faces causing airway issues and ultimately affecting our nutrition. You see, mouth breathing starves the brain and the heart. Breathing through your nose floods the lungs with precious nitric oxide, which among other things, relaxes your blood vessels. We are losing our ability to breathe properly and most people don’t even notice it. Honestly, most people don’t even think about it.
Studies show that 90% of the population has an inadequate airway. Why? Because the jaws are not growing adequately. Our faces are growing longer, our teeth and tongues don’t fit properly in our mouths, tonsils are huge, ear infections are on the rise, and so on. It’s a hard conversation to have when I see kids with underdeveloped jaws swallowing incorrectly and chewing incorrectly—all essentially because we are breathing incorrectly.
Time for a Rebuild
In the forward head posture, the jaws are not growing anteriorly and horizontally and the tongue is pushed backward. Oxygen therefore has a limited and constricted space to go thru on its way to the lungs; ergo, the head tips forward to bring the tongue forward so we can breathe. This also happens when the palates are vaulted and take up the space that was intended for the sinuses. Meanwhile, when the oxygen drops our brains shift into survival mode (sympathetic gear) and order our bodies to work hard at getting precious oxygen in. No wonder kids are exhausted today—sleep is meant to reboot and refresh everything but instead, their bodies are working overtime just to get the air they need.
The good news is we do have the genes to correct this, they just haven’t been expressed—or have been turned off, so to speak. Every cell in our bodies is in constant communication with the rest of the body, so just one small change in nutrition or mechanics can flip a switch in our DNA. We now know that it takes four generations to have a change in our DNA, and currently (and perhaps alarmingly) most of of us are on the third generation. Since the early 2000s, technology has helped us understand genes and DNA further so for most of us, through early interventions, small changes in nutrition, and learning to breathe through the nose—along with myofunctional exercises and maybe certain appliances—we can flip our good genes back on.
Your Dentist May Be Your Solution
Biological dentists are trained to see these symptoms and possibly help and/or guide with early intervention. Here’s the thing: once I see it, I cannot unsee it. The earlier you start, the better the outcome. We can prevent a number of adult malaises, including hypertension, sleep apneas, and autoimmune disorders that some physicians will just dismiss as the “you-are-getting-older” rule. The literature teaches us that there’s even a connection between snoring/mouth breathing and serious diseases such as heart disease, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease. I simply will not dismiss these symptoms because we can correct mouth breathing habits today. For now, I will close my eyes and open my ears to Brahms, Sousa, Williams, and Stravinsky as these beautiful high schoolers transport me to my ballet days.
Dr. Josephine Perez, DMD, has been practicing dentistry for 29 years. She is a graduate of Tufts University School of Dentistry in Boston and interned at New Orleans Coast Guard/Navy Base. Her holistic approach to dentistry encompasses each person’s unique and entire (or whole—holistic) state of physical and emotional well-being. The ability to maintain health through preventive measures and treatments of oral disease is her priority. Dr. Perez focuses on the underlying condition, rather than only treating the symptoms. She tests for biocompatibility to find pathways to reduce inflammation and apply biocompatible and biomimetic materials, supplements, essential oils to restore and strengthen the oral cavity and ultimately, the whole body. After decades of restoring and transforming smiles, Dr. Perez has integrated total wellness into her oral health enhancement practice—a revolutionary style of dentistry.
Visit Pure Dental in Naples at 4444 Tamiami Trail N, Ste. 6–7, call 239.692.9623 or go to: www.puredentalnaples.com.