This week I did an interview with Dr. Marshall Jewett, who is an orthodontist in Johnson City, TN, as a follow up to the Doctor’s Note on breathing last week. 


This week’s Doctor’s Note is going to be what I learned from this interview about breathing correctly and how mouth structure impacts that. 


Just a quick background on Dr. Jewett. He’s a new orthodontist who thinks a lot like we do at Performance Medicine. He’s all about prevention and overall health, and in my interview with him he talks about how that applies to facial structure and teeth. 


As you know based on my blog last week, I’m fascinated by the book “Breath” by James Nestor, which explains why we’ve become mouth breathers and how that’s causing a lot of health issues. 


One of the most basic things we do as humans is breathe. It affects everything. Learning how to breathe right is the most important thing you can do. 


Quick stat to get us started: If a kid’s mouth is so small that they need their tonsils and adenoids taken out, 50% of kids with ADD will get better with just that. 


I wanted to talk with Dr. Jewett about teeth and mouths and how that relates to healthy breathing. There’s so much sleep apnea and braces in kids, and it’s related to breathing and snoring. 


We Should Be Silent Sleepers


Dr. Jewett likes to see kids at age 7, and one thing that he mentioned a few times was that kids should be silent sleepers. If kids are making noises while they are sleeping, they probably have an obstructed airway. This can cause a decrease in oxygen flow to the brain as well as other related issues. 


He also said that 90% of kids could benefit from orthodontic treatment.


With that said, adults also should not be making noises at night. If you’re snoring at night then something is going on. 


One of the first things Dr. Jewett asks patients is whether or not they are sleeping well at night. The other first thing they will do is look at your mouth structure. There’s lots of things you can do for prevention as far as mouth structure goes. 


Breathing and Swallowing Correctly 


Why do people become mouth breathers? Well, people have different phenotypes. They have different looks. 


There are two ways your jaw can grow. The lower jaw can grow horizontal and forward, or vertical and down. The vertical growth pattern on top of someone who has poor breathing habits can lead to poor breathing habits. This could be a mouth breathing issue. 


As Dr. Jewett says, form follows function. When you breathe with your mouth open, you don’t rest your tongue on top of your mouth. 


The tongue is an ortho force. Put in the wrong place can make the jaws go in the wrong direction.


The correct place to rest your tongue is against the upper palate, with your teeth barely touching. 


Another interesting insight is the impact that bad swallowing habits can have. You don’t want to push your teeth forward when you swallow. You actually want to press your tongue on the roof of your mouth as you swallow. 


I loved this interview with Dr. Jewett and encourage all of you to go listen to it. It’s just 17 minutes long, but packed with valuable information from a smart orthodontist.


The medical and dental community need to work better together. We need to get on the same page with stuff like breathing correctly and sleep. It was amazing to get to talk with someone like Dr. Jewett. 


A few Simple Things To Help With Your Breathing 


If you’re congested, do something about it. An easy thing to do, and something I do every night, is wear a breathe right nasal strip. 


If you have sleep apnea, look into the reasons why you might have sleep apnea. Are you overweight? Do you have an obstructed nose? Are your teeth not fitting right. This can be helped. I definitely recommend seeing an orthodontist for things like that. 


These things, especially when compounded with obesity, are really bad for you.