Despite practicing good oral hygiene, many Americans visit the dentist every year only to discover that they are showing symptoms of tooth decay and gum disease. If you are diligent about your dental health but have noticed that your gums feel sensitive and dry, the culprit may have something to do with how you sleep at night.
Open mouth breathing while sleeping negatively affects teeth. The constant stream of air on your gums can shift the balance of microbes on your gums, allowing bacteria to grow, which can lead to gum disease and tooth decay. Learn how open-mouth breathing at night impacts your dental health and how to prevent damage to your teeth.
The best defense your mouth has against gum disease and tooth decay is saliva. Saliva is a protective, liquid substance in your mouth that coats your gums and teeth. It is made of several helpful elements like phosphate, bicarbonate, and calcium, which repair tooth damage and neutralize harmful plaque acids.
When you sleep with your mouth open, your mouth becomes dried out and loses this natural layer of protection. Without saliva, your mouth is subjected to bacteria that cause damage to your teeth and gums. Over time, this leads to symptoms of gum disease like tooth decay and receding gums.
Mouth breathing is often caused by blockages in the nasal passage, , although other compilations also bring it on. Reasons for mouth-breathing are:
You may not realize you are breathing through your mouth instead of your nose, especially while you sleep. However, there are certain signs you can look for that may indicate mouth breathing, such as:
There are several methods you can use to limit or stop open mouth breathing while you sleep.
Use several firm pillows to prop yourself up at night. When you lay flat, your nose is more likely to become clogged with mucus, which causes you to open your mouth while asleep to get air. When you sleep propped up, you reduce this effect.
It is a good idea to visit your dentist if you notice a change in your sleeping habits that includes mouth breathing. Your dentist can diagnose any medical problems and prescribe you medication or advise using a CPAP machine if necessary.
You can do several things at home to aid in keeping your mouth moist to mitigate the damage done by mouth breathing at night. Stay hydrated, keep up a good oral health routine, and keep your nasal passages clear with antihistamines or nasal decongestants when necessary. You might also try a nose strip at night that is made to help you breathe through your nose when you sleep.
Schedule a visit with your dentist if you notice issues with mouth breathing, sore gums, or tooth decay. If you experience bad breath, dry mouth, or receding gums, make an appointment to discuss your symptoms and get a checkup. Your dentist can help determine what’s causing you to breathe through your mouth and instruct you on to avoid further damage.
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