Which is Better? Breathing Through the Nose or Mouth?

Which is Better for Kids? Nose or Mouth-Breathing?

Have you noticed that humans have two doors for air to enter the body? Air can get into your body through the nose and the mouth. It’s great to have options! But is it better to be a nose-breather or a mouth-breather? Let’s find out by comparing nose-breathing and mouth-breathing for kids.

Nose-breathing versus mouth-breathing

thinking child wondering it is better to breathe through nose or mouth

The human nose is the main path for air to get into your lungs.

Mouth-breathing is an important backup plan, like when the nose is stuffy.

But it’s not the best long-term plan for your body’s health.

Benefits of breathing through the nose

Nose hairs filter out dust, dirt, pollen, and germs.

Thanks to mucus, the nose adds moisture to the air getting into the body.

Your fabulous nose also fine-tunes the air temperature so it’s not too cold or hot.

This makes air much more comfortable for your airways and lungs.

Downsides of mouth-breathing

Sometimes, you have no choice but to breathe through the mouth, like when you fight a cold. But your mouth is meant to be closed unless you talk and eat.

child blowing nose and mouth-breathing due to runny boogers

That’s why mouth-breathing for a long time can cause a few problems:

  • Chapped lips
  • Dry mouth
  • Stinky breath
  • Hoarse voice
  • Sore throat
  • Teeth cavities
  • Gum irritation

These things can happen when the lips, mouth, and throat become dry and irritated.

Unfiltered air through the mouth might also trigger environmental allergies and asthma attacks.

How to help kids stop mouth-breathing

Old habits, like nail-biting or watching too much TV before bedtime, are hard to break.

When it comes to mouth-breathing, the key trick is to figure out what is blocking air from getting through the nose.

  • Sometimes, it’s allergies to something in the environment.
  • Sometimes, it’s the shape or position of the nose, tonsils, or other parts of the face.

The good news is that doctors can help. If you have questions about how to stop mouth-breathing, talk to your doctor!

More fun facts about your nose and breathing

Human Body Learning has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on information from peer-reviewed research studies, academic institutions, and medical associations.

Published on September 12, 2022. Updated on January 23, 2024 by Betty Choi, MD

Published on September 12, 2022. Updated on January 23, 2024 by Betty Choi, MD

Dr. Betty Choi pediatrician

Betty Choi, MD

Dr. Betty Choi is a Harvard-trained pediatrician who makes learning fun and doable. She created the kids’ anatomy book Human Body Learning Lab, which Science Magazine recommended as a “notable standout in the genre.”