Tooth Tips for Later Life

Mouth Breathing and Tooth Decay: How Sleeping with Your Mouth Open Speeds up Tooth Decay

If you have a habit of sleeping with your mouth open, you have more to worry about than just swallowing spiders and drooling on your pillow. Not only does sleeping with your mouth open reduce the quality of your sleep, but it also lowers the pH of your entire body. A low pH weakens the overall efficiency of your body and leaves you feeling sluggish. Your teeth also suffer as a result of a lowered pH, and you may be more prone to tooth decay as a result.

How Sleeping with Your Mouth Open Lowers pH

A study at the University of Otago in New Zealand found that the pH level of participants who were forced to breathe through their mouths at night dropped to 3.6. This is a dangerously low level since not only do teeth begin to demineralise below a pH of 5.5, but they are also more susceptible to the acid produced by the bacteria in your mouth.

Furthermore, these effects worsen if you don't brush your teeth before bed. Failing to brush your teeth means you go to sleep with more bacterial organisms on the surface of your teeth. Once you fall asleep and your saliva levels drop, the bacteria on your teeth will thrive in the absence of saliva, which contains antibacterial properties.

How to Address this Issue to Avoid Severe Tooth Decay

Each person is different in terms of their genetic disposition, dental hygiene practices, and eating habits. Therefore, it is difficult to predict when mouth breathing may become a serious factor in regards to tooth decay. However, if you are aware that you frequently breathe through your mouth while sleeping, you need to do something about it before your teeth begin to suffer.

Over time, for example, due to demineralization, your teeth may weaken to the point that they become brittle. When this happens, even the act of eating may be enough to cause your teeth to break, leading to the need for dentures or dental implants in the near future.

When to Seek Your Dentist's Help

There are other options besides to learning to sleep in a raised position and using surgical tape to tape your mouth closed before falling asleep. You should speak to your dentist about getting a night guard to help you breathe through your nose.

Remember, mouth breathing while sleeping can lead to tooth decay. If you sleep with your mouth open, be sure to book a dental appointment soon to make sure your teeth have not been weakened as a result.