Episode 23 | How Breathing, Sleeping, Snoring affect your health and teeth


Hello and a very warm welcome to episode 023 of Elmar’s Tooth Talk: The missing link to total health. I am Dr Elmar Jung.

As always, before we start let me tell you What’s in it for you in this episode:

We talk about:

  • WHY breast feeding is better than bottle feeding
  • WHY correct breathing is important for good jaw development
  • HOW breathing affects your overall health
  • HOW to breathe properly
  • WHY nose breathing is healthier than mouth breathing
  • WHAT happens when you snore
  • WHY sleep apnoea can kill

Today we’re talking about a subject that normally receives relatively little attention in dentistry, breathing.

Lao Tzu said around 500 BC: “The perfect person breathes as if he were not breathing at all”.

And Paracelsus said on the subject of breathing: “The medicine of the internist and the knife of the surgeon heal from the outside, the breath heals from the inside”

If you also believe that breathing affects your health, you will find confirmation of this in this podcast. The way you breathe not only has a significant influence on what happens in your mouth, but also far beyond.

Respiratory problems have a profound impact on the human body because they cause stress and thus impair the body’s ability to deal properly with other physiological or psychological stresses.

Most breathing-related problems have less to do with your genetic makeup than with your habits and your environment. This in turn means that you can do something about proper breathing.

In addition, if you can breathe properly, you can also think properly.

Therefore, correct breathing is very important for your health.

But no one ever taught you how to breathe properly. As a baby, you just did it. And the bad breathing habits may have started at this early stage.

Let’s take a closer look at what happens when the baby is bottle-fed instead of breastfed.

Breast feeding vs bottle feeding

Babies are anatomically born to be breastfed. Breastfeeding provides the perfect interaction between mouth and jaw muscles and is therefore superior in its effectiveness and physiology compared to any other feeding method.

Breast feeding supports proper development of the palate, which forms the bottom of your nose, and should be arched wide and low.

If the palate is arched narrow and high, this can cause deviations in the nasal septum. This in turn has the consequence that the airways are constricted and the air flowing in and out is reduced.

Breastfeeding reduces the risk of developing a misaligned tooth or jaw and the risk of breathing disorders.

Breastfeeding, or even just sucking on the breast, is the best method of calming a baby.

Breastfeeding is basically a training program for the proper formation of the jaw. When breastfeeding, the mouth and jaw muscles are trained much more than when drinking from a feeding bottle.

Breastfeeding trains lip closure.

Correct lip closure is an important prerequisite for speech and jaw development and for nasal breathing.

In addition, the interaction of lower jaw movement, muscles and tongue helps to develop correct swallowing and enables correct development of the upper and lower jaw.

Breast-fed children require far less speech therapy and orthodontic treatment, and if so, it is usually less time-consuming.

About six months is the time it takes for the original sucking-swallowing reflex to transform into proper swallowing directed towards the palate. Therefore, babies should be breastfed for about six months.

By the way, breast milk is the best food for the baby. It is optimally composed to provide the baby with everything it needs in the first few months.

How to breathe properly

By improving your breathing, you can, among other things, improve your reaction to allergens.

Breathing is usually completely unconscious, which is why many people breathe incompletely and cramped. To breathe properly means to let the air flow into your stomach and pelvis without exertion. The breath flows through the whole body, mental and physical tension can be released.

Nasal breathing = correct breathing

Why is nasal breathing so important?

There are two main reasons for this.

Even if it gets a little scientific now, stay tuned because what you are learning explains the importance of correct breathing.

Firstly, when breathing through the nose, a substance is released into the airways and into the lungs, the so-called “nasal nitrogen”.

This substance, made by our body, helps fight bacteria that can cause respiratory infections.

This substance also expands blood vessels. Incidentally, this is also the reason why nitroglycerin is used for angina pectoris.

Nitroglycerin converts into nitric oxide, dilates the blood vessels, and thus brings an improvement in symptoms.

The second reason is that because the nostrils are smaller than the mouth, exhalation through the nose creates a kind of backward pressure, which gives the lungs more time to extract oxygen from the air you breathe. This helps balance the blood pH.

Mouth breathing vs nose breathing

Now what happens if you breathe through your mouth most of the time instead of your nose?

Let’s take a closer look at this.

Causes of mouth breathing

One cause of mouth breathing is a badly crooked nasal septum, which can be fixed with surgery.

A symptom of this curvature can be snoring. If you live alone and do not know whether you snore, you can turn on a recording device before going to bed and thus find out whether you are affected by snoring.

If you cannot breathe easily at night and you start breathing through your mouth, this has various consequences.

For one, your mouth dries out very quickly and according to a recent study, your saliva easily reaches the pH level of cola. Such an acidic solution can promote bacterial growth, attack the tooth enamel and lead to tooth decay and to inflammation of the gum.

A little tip: If you breathe with your mouth open at night and have to go to the toilet at night, just rinse your mouth out with a little water. That raises the pH.

Mouth breathing and its disadvantages

Mouth breathing occurs when the oxygen supply through the nose is insufficient. Breathing through the mouth, however, is not the optimal way for the air to be breathed. Because on its way from the mouth to the lungs, the air we breathe is neither purified, humidified nor warmed.

You may be familiar with the fact that if you have exerted yourself a lot in sports in winter and have to breathe through your mouth so that you get enough oxygen, you feel the coldness of the air in your lungs particularly well.

In addition to dry mouth, breathing through the mouth can also cause bad breath and difficulty swallowing. Due to the dried out oral cavity, the saliva can also be expected to do its job of washing the teeth and thus its protective function, which increases the susceptibility to tooth decay and inflammation of the gums.


A little-noticed topic in breathing is hyperventilation, also called over breathing.

Hyperventilation happens, for example, when you are excited in a stressful situation, are afraid and suddenly feel that you cannot get enough air and start to breathe deeper and faster.

If this goes on for a few minutes, your fingers may cramp and, in the worst case, you may pass out.

I remember well the time when I arbitrarily brought this about with friends. I then breathed very quickly and deeply for about a minute and then put my finger in my mouth and exhaled against the pressure of the finger, which of course didn’t work and hey presto I passed out.

In this case, it was fun. But for people who regularly suffer from over breathing this can have serious consequences.

What happens when you over breath?

By breathing faster and deeper, more carbon dioxide is exhaled, which leads to an increase in the pH value in the blood, which means that less oxygen is released from the blood to the cells.

Among other things, this reduces the blood flow to hands and feet and they start to tingle.

But it also decreases blood flow to the brain.

It is interesting to note that before the Second World War the amount of air people breathed was 5-6 liter per minute. This amount fell slightly between 1930 and 1950 and more than doubled with the advent of fast food in the 1950s.

Nowadays a ventilation rate of 12 liter per minute is considered normal.

Other interesting facts

Another study has shown that the rhythm of breathing affects our emotions and memory function. According to the study, there are marked differences in brain activity during inhalation and exhalation. This makes it easier to remember an object if you noticed it when you inhaled.

Two scientists, K.P. Buteyko and Artour Rakhimov, have investigated the subject of “correct breathing” in their research and written about in their books. Both found that almost all patients with chronic illnesses are chest breathers.

In summary, we can say, “Correct breathing is necessary for survival”.

There are lots of breathing exercises out there. Buteyko, Rakhimoc, The Hawaiian Ha-breathing, Wim Hof’s Method Breathing are only a few examples. Yoga, meditation, and other relaxation exercises also help with proper breathing. Sometimes a walk in nature is all that is needed.

Now let us look into a subject closely related to improper breathing. Snoring.

Celebrities do it too

Anyone who has a weakness for Tom Cruise can bury them right here. Not only does he snore very loudly, he has even had a soundproof “snoring room” set up. Lionel Messi and Prince Harry are also reported to be snorers.

What do the statistics say

Young and old suffer from it. Around 30% of men under 30 years of age snore and between 60 and 80% snore by the age of 60. Snoring doesn’t even stop at women. In the younger generation it is around 10% while in advanced age it is around 40%.

According to studies, the number of those affected is constantly increasing.

If the noise level only roughly corresponds to that of a refrigerator, around 17-26 decibels, then the person next to you can usually still enjoy a well-deserved sleep. But if the noise level rises to 90 decibels, you get the feeling of lying next to a jackhammer.

Breathing problems affect your sleep

Not only is snoring a social problem, it is also a health risk for the snorer himself

When you sleep, your body wants to rest and recover. For this he needs enough oxygen. But snoring reduces the supply of oxygen and thus impairs recovery.

What actually happens when you snore?

The upper part of the throat represents an anatomical constriction when breathing. Here the breath flows at increased speed, which causes turbulence in the breathable air. When sleeping, the muscle and soft tissue is slack and can therefore be caused to vibrate by this turbulence, which then creates the annoying snoring noises.

Restless sleep

Often, snorers wake up in the morning are still tired and often unable to concentrate during the day. When you have reached this point, your snoring should be examined by a doctor.

Treatment of snoring

For normal snoring, not drinking too much alcohol before going to bed or getting more exercise can improve the situation.

Certain appliances such as the Lip Trainer can be useful. The Lip Trainer strengthens the lip muscles, supports nasal breathing, increases blood supply to the brain, activates facial muscles, coordinates tongue and throat movement and has a positive effect on the parasympathetic nervous system.

Before considering more invasive treatments, using the lip trainer would be worth trying.

Other measures include removing the nasal polyps or straightening the nasal septum.

What your dentist can do

If snoring occurs because the lower jaw slides backwards while sleeping and as a result the tongue falls back into the throat, which is often noticeable in those affected by a dry mouth and a dry throat in the morning, a so-called snore splint can bring relief.

This splint holds the lower jaw in an advanced position overnight. This prevents the tongue from sliding down and keeps the airways free.

So, snoring in itself is not dangerous. In 90% of cases, snoring is bothersome but harmless.

Sleep apnoea

However, snoring becomes dangerous when breathing stops. This is called sleep apnoea.

With sleep apnoea, snoring is much louder and more irregular than with harmless snoring.

The lack of oxygen that occurs with sleep apnoea leads to increased blood pressure, which in turn can increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes and a morning stroke.

According to research, sleep apnoea, if left untreated, can even damage the frontal lobe after a few years, thereby causing dementia.

Overweight people and those with a large neck circumference are particularly affected by snoring.

Treatment of sleep apnoea

Treatment for sleep apnoea depends on the severity of the disorder. A snore splint can help with mild sleep apnoea syndrome.

If the disorder is serious, visiting a sleep laboratory is recommended. The test in a sleep laboratory can provide more information about the severity of sleep apnoea.

Many sleep apnoea patients use a mask that is placed over the nose and fixed with headbands to supply air with a slight excess pressure. This prevents the airways from collapsing and keeps the throat area open to airflow.

I recently read about a sleep app.

If you want to meet the constant nocturnal noise with imagination and a wink, you can download this “Sleep Art” app for free. The app converts sleep sounds into art by recording movements and noises lying on the mattress and transferring them into graphic patterns. The next morning you can look at a personal work of art and possibly soothe your loved one with it.

Perhaps you are one of those people affected and one of the tips is helpful or you can help a friend or acquaintance with it.

That’s it for today. Thanks for tuning in to Elmar’s Tooth Talk: The missing link to total health. Bye for now.

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