by Brian Hale, D.D.S., San Antonio, Texas
Thoughts can cause mouth breathing from the overarching paradigms one holds: which can affect what a patient eats and drinks and how they exercise (or not), to their world-views and threat perception (what causes ‘stress’), to sleep hygiene, to dependence and co-dependence and on and on…. All these will lead to parasympathetic / sympathetic imbalance which will burn the patient’s sympathetic mechanisms out while they live in a constant state of “Fight, Flight, or Freeze” which activates mouth breathing (or apnea!). Chronically, this profoundly lowers the immune function, learning, sleeping, constant elevated Muscular-Skeletal tone (cracking knuckles, abdominal bracing, forward head posture, etc), and a continued downward spiral of poor choices that reinforce the faulty world views. Much more to say here…
Down to actual thoughts themselves (the self-talk, the narrative in one’s mind) which creates a stress / fear reaction which elevates Fight, Flight or Freeze reactions and mouth breathing. The average patient has ~68,000 thoughts per day and 90% of those are negative. So that is ~61,200 negative self-talk events per day!
One of challenges in overcoming this is the Dunning-Kruger effect; which says that your patients don’t just “not know the truth” –they are not just empty vessels waiting to be enlightened– but they are full of decades of false ideas, theories, heuristics, and experiences. Or “…incompetent people do not recognize—scratch that, cannot recognize—just how incompetent they are,”
A good book on false heuristics is “Thinking, Fast & Slow” by Daniel Kahneman.
Basically, anything that causes imbalance in the body is bad whether it’s bite, posture, airway, nutrition or ideas.
Or as someone said “Thoughts, traumas and toxins”.