When you breathe normally, you should draw in air through your nose, and each breath should be silent with no effort required. However, some people breathe through their mouths, especially once they fall asleep. This can happen for several reasons, including sleep apnea, nasal congestion, or the shape of your nose or jaw. If you breathe through your mouth when you're asleep, you'll probably find yourself waking up feeling dehydrated and often not particularly well-rested.
That can be bad enough, but not many people understand the impact mouth breathing can have on their oral health. Here are just four common complications.
1. Jaw and Bite Issues
Mouth breathers tend to hold their jaws slightly open as they sleep. When this is done for such an extended period, the jaw joints can be put under strain. This can lead to significant discomfort and the need for orthodontic treatment or even surgery. Over a prolonged period, it can also impact the way your teeth come together, and such irregular bite patterns can increase the risk of damaging your teeth. Children tend to be most at risk of such issues since their facial bones are still developing.
2. Tooth Decay
As you breathe through your nose, your sinuses add moisture to the air. This does not happen when you breathe through your mouth, and a night of keeping your mouth open is naturally going to dry it out. That's a big problem since saliva is one of your mouth's natural defences. One thing saliva does is control acidity. Without enough saliva, acidity increases. This in turn creates a more corrosive environment in which plaque can more easily thrive, so mouth breathing can lead to tooth decay.
3. Gum Disease
Saliva doesn't just protect your teeth and balance out acidity. It also helps wash away bacteria and safeguard your gums. With the saliva gone and the mouth much dryer than it should be, bacteria and small food particles will not be properly washed away, which can aggravate the gums. This can lead to receding gums or gingivitis. Left untreated, gingivitis can process into periodontitis, and that can mean anything from root canals to tooth extractions.
4. Bad Breath
One of the earliest signs you might breathe through your mouth is bad breath that won't go away. If you brush and floss each day but still find yourself experiencing bad breath, especially first thing in the morning, this may be because decreased saliva production during sleep has failed to wash away bacteria and other smelly compounds. Bad breath should never be ignored, so book an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible.
For more information, contact a dentistry service today.