• Lisa Paul IBCLC

Nitric Oxide and why you should breathe


Last night I attended the monthly meeting for the East TN Lactation Consultant Association (ETLCA) of which I am secretary. The subject last night was Lip and Tongue Ties in Children presented by Dr. Spears and Dr. Goza at Crestview Dental Center. They were joined by Dr. Tigner of Foothills ENT. I would like to start off by thanking both practices for taking time out of their busy schedules to get to know the concerns local IBCLCs have about tongue tie and to tell more about their practices.

Crestview Dental Center uses laser to revise a tongue and/or lip tie. Dr. Tigner uses scissors and does bill Tenncare when eligible. Both practices expressed their preference for working with newborns, as there are many developmental reasons to catch this problem early.

However, that is not what the title talks about, it talks about Nitric Oxide and breathing. A couple of months ago I learned about nitric oxide in a course I was taking about health for people past the age of 30. In a nutshell, nitric oxide is produced in our bodies when we exercise and relax. It is a natural anti-inflammatory or as the training put it, it is our bodies natural pharmacy. When we move and breathe, we create this amazing substance that doesn't cost us a dime. Its job is to repair inflamed areas of our bodies.

What was interesting about last night's talk for me, is that both the dentists and the ENT have been paying attention to how people sleep and what effect a simple thing as whether your mouth is open or closed has on the production of nitric oxide. To simplify the concept, when we breathe with our mouths open, we create an imbalance of carbon dioxide that increases inflammation. Closing our mouths to breathe reduces inflammation and helps the nitric oxide to repair those inflammations already present, rather than making more while we sleep.

Dr. Spears recommended two books to explore this topic further, Close Your Mouth and the Oxygen Advantage. Both address the topics of allergies and asthma, and how they relate to how we breathe.

As a lactation consultant, why do I care about breathing? Because how a baby breathes is related to how they eat. If a baby does not have proper mouth and neck functioning, whether it is through a tongue tie, jaw misalignment, or torticollis, that baby is going to have difficulty feeding well at either the breast or by bottle. Correcting these issues when they are babies is a much more simple solution than dealing with a slew of health issues as they get older. As an IBCLC, I am trained to look for feeding difficulties and make the appropriate referrals to fix those difficulties. I am thankful that we have another resource in our community for dealing with proper mouth function.

This blog is a huge oversimplification of the talk I heard last night. I apologize for getting any of the details incorrect but I felt this information was intriguing enough that if this should spark an interest, the books below can fill in where I did not.




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