If you breathe through your mouth at night, you’re probably already aware of the most common consequences like dry mouth, snoring, bad breath and irritated gums. What you might not know is that it also increases your risk of tooth decay. Since no one wants to spend more time in the chair with a dentist in Gainesville than necessary, it’s worth it to figure out ways to counteract the effects of mouth breathing so you can keep your teeth as healthy as possible. Learn more below about how mouth breathing is linked to cavities and what you can do about it!
How Does Mouth Breathing Contribute To Cavities?
Tooth decay is caused when acids in the mouth eat away at your enamel, much like acid rain eats away at marble and stone. These acids are naturally produced by the bacteria in your mouth, but your body has a natural defense mechanism: saliva.
Saliva washes away plaque and also neutralizes the acids in your mouth, both of which prevent cavities. Unfortunately, your mouth becomes very dry when you breathe through your mouth at night, so you lose this protection.
In fact, researchers found evidence to support this idea in a recent study. They learned that acid levels were much higher in participants who slept with their mouths open, putting them at a significantly higher risk for cavities.
How Can You Minimize Your Risk of Decay?
Since you breathe through your mouth while you’re sleeping, you obviously don’t have a lot of control over it! However, there are still some things you can do to minimize its negative impact:
- Address the root cause – Talk with your doctor and dentist to see if there’s a medical condition that needs to be addressed, such as sleep apnea, enlarged tonsils or nasal congestion.
- Be diligent with hygiene – It’s extra important to thoroughly brush and floss at night to remove plaque, cavity-causing bacteria and food particles before you spend the next 8 hours sleeping.
- Use extra fluoride – Fluoride can go a long way towards protecting your teeth by strengthening your enamel and counteracting the effects of acids in the mouth.
And, as always, seeing a Gainesville dentist for regular care is the foundation of good oral health. They’ll be able to closely monitor your teeth and find cavities when they’re small and easy to fix, as well as give you specific recommendations for your unique needs.
Many patients feel like they’re powerless to stop breathing through their mouth at night, but that simply isn’t true. With these tips and tricks, you can either eliminate the problem altogether or at least prevent it from damaging your teeth!
About the Author
Dr. Gabriel Nossa is a dentist in Gainesville who focuses on prevention first so he can help his patients avoid major dental work as much as possible. He always takes the time to educate patients about everything from good hygiene habits to the effects of mouth breathing. If you breathe through your mouth and have any additional questions, he can be reached via his website or at (352) 332-8133.