The Importance of Breathing Properly: How you might be doing it Wrong

correct breathing

Breathing is the one of the most basic yet critical functions to keep any living thing alive.  Every living cell in our bodies needs a continual supply of oxygen to survive. When you breathe in, your diaphragmatic muscles arch to help draw air into your lungs. Both of them work together with the respiratory system to produce oxygen to all the cells in our body. 

However, have you ever stopped to notice if you are breathing correctly? In our fast-paced lives, we can lose sight of things as simple as our breathing. When stressed, our breathing tends to become shallow. When our breathing is shallow, we store air into our chests rather than the diaphragm muscles. Shallow breathing often feels tense and constricted and can result in or be symptomatic of rapid breathing and hypoventilation. 

At DP Dental, we look at oral health as a vital component of our overall health. We place great emphasis on breathing and breathing correctly! Here are our top six tips on how you can breathe optimally.

1. Make sure your lips are sealed properly.

Many people don’t realise they could be mouth breathers. But there’s a chance that you could be subconsciously doing it while asleep. Believe it or not, some tape their mouth shut to make sure they don’t mouth breathe! Mouth breathing is associated with low tongue posture, which, in turn, causes airway obstruction. Airway obstruction is especially critical when sleeping, as it leads to snoring and even sleep apnea. In more extreme cases, oxygen reduction in the blood can cause heart attack and brain dysfunction. Some may even experience daytime sleepiness and poor performance at work or in school

2. Nasal breathing

According to researchers, the right way to breathe is to breathe through your nose. Sounds like a sensible thing to say. However, not everyone is a nasal breather. Why, though, is nasal breathing so important? It is because the mucus in the nose helps to filter, warm, humidify and slow down the air as we breathe. The paranasal lining also produces nitric oxide (NO) to help improve blood vessel dilations to increase oxygen exchange in the lungs. It acts as a potent antibacterial agent too.  If we breathe through our mouth, we can miss out on all this goodness. As the Stanford University Sleep researcher, the late Prof Christian Guilleminault said, “Mouth breathing is never normal.”

3. Breathe nice and slow

Patrick McKeown, a world-renowned author and breath practitioner who pioneered a method of breathing now used around the world to help treat respiratory disorders, believes that optimal breathing is to breathe slowly and deeply. Your breaths should not be shallow, and you should engage your diaphragm fully. Time your breaths is an ideal way to ensure every breath is in slow-motion that it is barely perceptible.

4. Nose-breathing while exercising

Altitude training is a way to make your body work more efficiently with a lower intake of air. Nose-breathing while exercising can be a form of self-regulation. If you feel you tend to mouth-breathe, it could mean that your body is telling you to slow down. You can try slowing down your walking pace or taking a break from running or walking. Get your breathing back to a slow, calm and nasal state in as few breaths as possible.

5. Get more CO2

It is known that increasing the amount of CO2 in your lungs by a modest amount can help bring in more oxygen into your bloodstream. To absorb more oxygen into the blood, we need to add CO2, which lowers the pH levels in the blood, which then dislodges oxygen molecules from haemoglobin and delivers it to hungry cells. This action is called the Bohr effect, discovered by Danish scientist Christian Bohr in 1904. 

6. Take your time to adapt

Allow your body to adjust slowly. If you have been a mouth breather and would like to change your habit, you could speak to one of our doctors about any change in your regimen. They will give you plenty of great advice to make sure you become a competent nasal-breather!