For individuals suffering from conditions such as asthma, sinus problems or even sleep apnea, the inability to breathe can have a detrimental effect on your health and quality of life. While medications, treatments, and oral appliances can help individuals regain their ability to breathe, these solutions may not fully address the underlying causes of these conditions.
In recent years, the Buteyko breathing method has become a popular addition to traditional treatment regimens. By emphasizing controlled, metered breathing, the Buteyko method seeks to reduce the individual’s instinct to breathe through the mouth, thereby lowering the risk of hyperventilation and the exacerbation of the patient’s breathing condition.
The Science behind Breathing
Typically, individuals take about 10-12 breaths per minute, which allows the breathing volume to remain a steady equilibrium between oxygen intake and carbon dioxide expiration. However, when patients hyperventilate or breathe heavily through their mouths as a result of their breathing condition, they begin to lose CO2 at a rapid rate, thereby causing a disturbance in their breathing volume (how much air is inhaled and exhaled per breath).
When carbon dioxide is lost too quickly, the smooth muscles that surround the airway begin to constrict, causing the individual to breathe even deeper in an effort to compensate for the closing of their airway. The loss of carbon dioxide at an accelerated rate can also cause the blood vessels to constrict, thereby preventing oxygenated blood cells from delivering oxygen to the different tissues and organs in the body. The result is a feeling of light-headedness or dizziness until patients are able to stabilize their breathing.
What is the Buteyko Breathing Method?
Buteyko breathing emphasizes the use of breathing through the nose to help stabilize hyperventilation and control the loss of carbon dioxide. The Buteyko method is as follows:
- While breathing comfortably and steadily, sit straight without crossing your legs
- Take a small, silent breath in and out through your nose. After breathing out, pinch your nose to prevent inhalation.
- While timing yourself using a stopwatch, hold your breath until you feel the first definite desire to breathe.
- Once you feel the urge to breathe, stop the timer and resume breathing through your nose.
This measurement is your control pause, which serves as an indicator of your body’s tolerance to carbon dioxide. Typically, short control pause times indicate a lower tolerance to carbon dioxide and are commonly found in patients with airway constrictions. For individuals with lower control pauses, the following exercise can help improve their breathing volume:
- While sitting up straight, take a small breath in and out of your nose.
- While pinching your nose and holding your breath, gently nod your head until you feel the first definite desire to breathe.
- When you breathe, keep your mouth closed and breathe gently through your nose.
Learn More Today!
At Synergy Dental Group, our dental team has long advocated airway-focused dentistry as a way to help all of our patients improve their dental and overall health. Our Sonoma dentist frequently recommends the Buteyko breathing method to all of our patients, allowing them to achieve an improved oral-systemic connection. For more information about this unique breathing method, contact Dr. Hubenette today.