It goes without saying that none of us can control what we do when we’re sleeping. From grinding our teeth, to snoring, and even sleep-walking, there’s simply no way to change our nighttime behaviors. But that doesn’t mean we can’t counteract the effects of them – and that includes mouth breathing! Many people don’t ask their dentist in Lisle about breathing with their mouth open at night because they assume it’s harmless. But it turns out that there’s one unanticipated consequence: a higher risk of cavities! Learn more about the link between the two in this blog and find out how to keep your smile healthy – in spite of nighttime mouth breathing!
How Does Mouth Breathing Increase Your Risk of Cavities?
One of the primary causes of cavities is acid. Although enamel is the hardest substance in your body, the acid in your mouth eats away at it and ultimately does permanent damage to your teeth (aka cavities).
But where does this acid come from? The normal bacteria in everyone’s mouth produce it, especially after meals.
Thankfully, your body has a natural way of counteracting the effects of acid: saliva. Not only does it wash away plaque, bacteria and food debris, it also reduces the acid in the mouth.
In a recent study, researchers found that people who breathe through their mouth at night lose these benefits because their mouth becomes dry. Just eight hours each night without the benefits of saliva can lead to more cavities!
How Can You Counteract These Effects?
Fortunately, there are several easy things you can do to reduce your risk of tooth decay:
- Get regular dental care – With regular checkups, small cavities that you can’t feel yet can be found before they turn into larger problems.
- Use extra topical fluoride – Fluoride strengthens your enamel to prevent decay, so you can always use a store-bought fluoride mouthwash right before bed each night after brushing and flossing. Or you can get a prescription-strength fluoride toothpaste from a family dentist in Lisle.
- Keep plain water by the bed – If you wake up during the night, take several sips of water to hydrate your mouth.
- Use dry mouth products – There are some great products on the market that help mimic the benefits of saliva. Using them in conjunction with extra fluoride before bed can reduce your risk for decay.
As always, the foundation of a beautiful smile is a healthy smile. If you breathe with your mouth open at night, you can use these tips and tricks to have both!
About the Author
Dr. Frank Marchese is a general, cosmetic and restorative dentist who knows that the little things his patients do have a big impact on their oral health. That’s why he focuses on education and prevention at every checkup to help them minimize the amount of dental work they need. If you have any questions, he can be reached through his website or at (630) 969-2310.