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  • Writer's pictureDr. Josephine Perez

Every breath you take….

A funny thing happened the other day…my husband and I attended a Band and Orchestra performance at our teenager’s High School. I watched these beautiful teenagers march into formations as they played their instruments to inspiring music; I was sooo proud and these kids were visibly having fun. But one thing kept distracting me. Originally trained as a ballet dancer, posture is EVERYTHING! As I panned out to the entire group, I noticed that “forward head” position. As each section took their “breather”, I noticed the long faces and open mouths. These kids are Mouth Breathers!

What’s wrong with mouth breathing?? Glad you asked… A small amount of mouth breathing is normal if you have a cold or if you are and avid athlete during strenuous exercise, but at rest-not good for several reasons, but most importantly, it’s a symptom of lack of oxygen AKA airway issues. The body is not getting enough oxygen, period!

Here are a few facts: 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; teeth grinding is rampant not to mention high blood pressure, autism, ADHD, learning disabilities, concentration issues and overall school performance issues. All related to our shrinking skulls and elongated faces-Airway Issues and ultimately our nutrition. Nutrition can deform and damage, yet it is so easy to fix (now there’s a topic for another essay)! But I digress…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 have lost our ability to breathe correctly 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 don’t fit in our mouths, tongues don’t fit, tonsils are huge, ear infections are on the rise: the list goes on. It’s a hard conversation to have when I see kids with underdeveloped jaws, swallowing incorrectly and chewing incorrectly. All mostly because we are breathing incorrectly.

Those heads in “forward head position?” Forward Head Posture: jaws not growing anteriorly and horizontally, tongue is backwards therefor oxygen 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. No wonder kids are exhausted today. Sleep is meant to reboot and refresh everything. Meanwhile, while the oxygen drops, our brains need to shift into survival mode (sympathetic gear) and order our bodies to work hard at getting precious oxygen in.

The good news is we have the genes, they just haven’t been expressed or have been turned off so to speak. You see, every cell in our bodies is in constant communication with the rest of the body. Just one small change in nutrition or mechanics, can flip a switch in our DNA. We now know that it takes 4 generations to have a change in our DNA. The scary part is that most of us are on the 3rd generation. So to quote Oscar Goldman: we can rebuild him; we have the technology. Since the early 2000s technology has helped us understand genes and DNA further; so for most of us, early interventions, small changes in nutrition, learning to breathe through the nose, along with myofunctional exercises and maybe certain appliances, we can flip our good genes back on.

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, 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.

So I guess for now, I will close my eyes and open my ears to Brahms, Sousa, Williams and Stravinsky as these beautiful Highschoolers transport me to my ballerina daze. 😊

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