Do you sleep with your mouth open? It could be wreaking havoc on your health

We all know snoring is terrible for our health but what you may not have known is simply sleeping with your mouth open could also be doing you a disservice.

New research has found sleeping with your mouth open may promote decay and weakening of the teeth. A widened mouth can be as acidic as if you had just drunk a glass of orange juice, according to dental researchers.

Otago University post-graduate student Joanne Choi and colleagues experimented with 10 healthy volunteers by sometimes attaching a nose clip that made them breathe through their mouths.

The participants also had a small device clipped to their teeth to measure acidity and temperature and transmit the data to an external recorder.

The study, published in the Journal of Oral Rehabilitation, showed acidity increased slowly in everyone’s mouths during sleep, but increased more over a longer period when participants were forced to mouth-breathe.

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“This study is the first to continuously monitor intra-oral pH changes in healthy individuals over several days,” says Ms Choi. “Our findings support the idea that mouth-breathing may indeed be a causal factor for dental diseases such as enamel erosion and caries.”

Ms Choi says the study helps to explain the observation of dentists that people who tend to sleep with their mouths open have higher rates of tooth decay.

To prevent mouth breathing at night, you can:

  • See a doctor about your sinuses or take medication to stop a cold of flu that may be blocking your nose
  • Use a nasal saline spray to clear your nasal passages, if they’re feeling especially blocked
  • Remove known allergens from your home, and especially your bed
  • Get regular exercise and focus on breathing through your nose

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