Are you breathing, right? Breathe as “nature intended” to support a healthy “you.”
The importance of breathing quality
We tend to assume that proper or optimal breathing is second nature. But many of us are not breathing correctly or the way that nature intended. In fact, we may chalk up physiological issues with breathing to the stress of day-to-day life or attribute it to our psychological state.
The reality is there is an epidemic occurring. Instead of breathing through the nose, many of us breathe through our mouth and chest. It takes a lot more effort to do so. This process stimulates a low-grade fight-or-flight response. In our fast-paced Western society, we are in a constant state of “over-ventilating.” Such unhealthy breathing has ramifications for a variety of common conditions. These conditions include:
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- High blood pressure
Our overwhelming “to-do” list is quite literally altering our breathing. And when we go to sleep, this state continues, and our airways are even more vulnerable to the effects of distorted, unhealthy, shallow, labored, and otherwise unnatural breathing.
Breathe this way instead
Channel the yoga or breath-work exercises that you do on occasion. The breathing you do periodically in these classes should be something you do competently, subconsciously, automatically, and continuously.
- First, understand that your breathing and the compensations that have developed are behaviors. You can control it. To borrow from Dr. Cruz’s friend, world-renowned physiologist Dr. Peter Litchfield: “Behavior is physiology in action.” Think of how you breathe differently when you are in a bad mood versus a good mood. There are environmental and psychological triggers that contribute to disordered breathing.
- Second, 90% to 95% of the time (except during vigorous exercise), you should breathe in through the nose and out through the nose.
- Third, support nasal breathing by maintaining good posture — with the lips together and the tongue on the roof of the mouth.
- Fourth, be mindful of “noisy” breathing. The healthy breathing maintained naturally is silent, quiet, like a mouse. There should not be any resistance.
Furthermore, turn to airway-focused dentistry providers like our team for proper assessment and diagnosis of underlying structural issues. The sooner that we can intervene, the better off the patient will be.
As the keystone for our face, the airway and this need for self-preservation, to take that next breath – breathing one moment to the next — is driving facial development. We want to encourage healthy “forward growth.” This healthy development can be an uphill battle due to significant, modernization-driven changes in everything from the foods we eat to how we sit.
From the first breath
With sleep apnea and an array of other conditions, the problem did not just start. It took decades to manifest to where it is now being recognized.
Like every other mammal, human babies are naturally “designed” to latch on to their mom when they nurse. With the advent of alternative bottle-feeding, we may be unwittingly baking functional and structural risk factors into the growth and development of our children. How? Proper latching requires more muscle function. These muscles and this process supports the ideal forward growth of the face. Alternatively, vertical growth promotes the development of a narrow or collapsed airway, along with a range of adverse signs and symptoms that are ultimately due to “bad breathing” and physiologic – not psychological – stress.
We recommend a prescriptive, predictable, and multidisciplinary approach to addressing these issues during the first five years of life. Our approach entails the following:
- Seeking the expertise of a good speech and language pathologist or occupational therapist trained in looking at benchmarks for healthy structural development and growth.
- Be mindful of the limitations associated with the current health system and its approach; for instance, pediatric dentists or pediatricians are not looking at or asking questions about structural development and its role in healthy breathing. Instead, they are treating enlarged tonsils, getting so caught up with the symptoms associated with mouth-breathing — rather than addressing the breathing itself.
- With a less “siloed” approach to health care, problems at the 12-, 14-, or 18-month mark may be identified and reversed proactively with appropriate early therapies. A baby does not have to grow up to be a hyperactive preschooler or an adult with obstructive sleep apnea and hypertension.
Do not throw yet another pill at the symptom of your underlying disease. You can support healthy physical changes by managing over-breathing and slowing your breath. Indicators such as your heart rate follow suit, and no medication is necessary. Function better. Even look better. It all starts when we get the breathing and the airway “right.” Our airway-focused team at the office of Mark A. DDS in Dana Point, CA, welcomes any questions or concerns you may have. Call us at (949) 661-1006.