Lots of people sleep with their mouths open, but it can actually cause some serious problems. If you tend to keep your mouth wide open while you sleep, you should try to break the habit. You may notice a big improvement in your health and your quality of life just from making this simple change.
There are several causes of sleeping with mouth open. Some people have obstructed or swollen nasal passages and can’t get enough air through their nose. This can happen if you’re congested from allergies or the common cold or if you have a structural nasal problem like a deviated septum or nasal polyps. Many women start breathing through their mouths during pregnancy because hormonal changes can cause the nasal passages to swell up. In some cases, sleeping with an open mouth is just a habit.
Whatever the cause, it’s important to try to find a solution. Regularly mouth breathing at night can affect the quality of your sleep, your dental health, and your overall well-being. Here are some common effects of sleeping with mouth open:
A Breathe Right survey of 1,000 Americans found that 37 percent of people who mouth breathe sleep poorly because they snore. Many people don’t realize that they have a snoring problem, so the percentage may actually be much higher.
Snoring occurs when the tissues in the back of the mouth and throat vibrate against each other. When you breathe through your nose, the air bypasses most of these tissues. However, when you breathe through your mouth, the air rushes directly past the tissues, which can cause them to vibrate loudly.
Snoring may not seem like a big problem, but it can affect your health and your overall quality of life. It’s difficult to get deep, restful sleep when you snore, so you may feel tired, irritable, or unfocused during the day. Lack of quality sleep can affect your stress levels, your blood pressure, and your hormones, which can lead to a variety of health issues. Fortunately, snoring can usually be treated with mouthpieces and other devices that are designed to hold your mouth closed while you sleep.
According to an article from the Australian Financial Review, people who breathe through their mouths have a 42 percent greater loss of moisture than those who breathe through their noses. Even if you only keep your mouth open while you sleep, you can easily become dehydrated. Fluid will evaporate from your mouth all night, especially with the air rushing past as you breathe. This will cause your mouth and lips to become noticeably dry, but it can also lead to dehydration throughout your whole body.
It’s normal to wake up in the morning with a bad taste in your mouth, but people who sleep with their mouths open often have terrible breath. Because more fluid evaporates when you keep your mouth open, your mouth won’t have enough saliva to properly clean itself all night. When your mouth is too dry, bacteria will build up on your teeth and tongue, causing bad breath.
You can minimize bad breath by drinking lots of water, following a good oral hygiene routine, and avoiding foods that are known to create a foul odor. However, if you sleep with your mouth open, the best way to improve your breath is to break the habit. That way, you’ll eliminate the cause of your bad breath instead of simply covering it up.
Breathing through your mouth while you sleep causes your mouth to dry out and bacteria to build up, so tooth decay is a common consequence. Even if you brush your teeth immediately after waking up, bacteria can spend hours on your teeth at night, wearing away your enamel and gums.
In a study from the Otago University in New Zealand, participants had devices clipped to their teeth that recorded the acidity levels in their mouths. They participants slept for one night with nose clamps, which forced them to keep their mouths open. The next night, they slept normally. Researchers found that the acidity levels in their mouths were much higher on the first night of the study because there wasn’t enough saliva to wash away the acid-producing bacteria.