Over 150 years ago an American artist George Catlin, observing the native and immigrant populations, noticed how well formed and fine featured the indigenous people were and how ugly and sick many of the immigrants seemed. He decided it was because the American Indians never let their children breathe through their mouths, always teaching them to nose breathe, whereas it was usual to see the immigrants mouth breathing. The immigrants often had crowded or misaligned teeth and poor facial features. He wrote a book on the subject “Shut your mouth and live a healthy life”

It has taken 150 years for modern medicine to recognise he was right. Now there is a growing group of orthodontists who rarely extract teeth or use braces with young children but teach them to breathe correctly, through the nose. They get good results! The bonus is that these same children will be healthier because of their improved breathing, less likely to suffer asthma, panic attacks, hay fever, skin problems etc because they are not mouth breathing.

The rationale underpinning these results is easy to understand. When we mouth breathe our tongue lies on the bottom of the mouth; when we nose breathe it presses up on the upper palate 24/7 maintaining a wide dental arch as well as encouraging normal lower jaw development. Try it for yourself! We are told just a few grams will move a tooth anywhere if applied 24/7, this is how braces work! The tongue applies some 30 grams pressure most of the time if you nose breathe.

Michael Lingard BSc DO BBEC  lingard @ buteykokent.co.uk  buteykokent.co.uk     totalhealthmatters.co.uk

*The photo on the left was before beginning nose breathing, after learning how to breathe correctly through the nose the facial features and dentition develop normally on the right.