How mouth breathing affects oral health

Breathing comes naturally. We do it without having to think about it, even when we’re asleep. However, just because you don’t have to think about breathing, doesn’t mean you’re breathing correctly. Bad habits like mouth breathing have been proven to cause significant damage to oral health. The habit of mouth breathing can be difficult to catch, especially if it occurs during sleep. Here are some signs and effects of mouth breathing to watch out for, along with ways to curb the habit. 

Signs of harmful breathing patterns 

Mouth breathing can be habitual, but most of the time it is caused by temporary nasal blockages. Sinus issues, seasonal allergies and colds are all reasons nasal passages may be blocked, forcing a person to breathe through the mouth. Some signs of habitual mouth breathing may include bad breath, snoring, cracked lips, frequent colds and dry mouth. These symptoms are not exclusive to chronic mouth breathing, but could be indicative of other oral health issues.  

Effects on oral health 

The main reason mouth breathing affects oral health is due to its impact on saliva production. Without saliva, the mouth can quickly dry out. Dry mouth can put someone at a greater risk for developing tooth decay and gum disease. Saliva is especially important in neutralizing acids that cause tooth decay and gum disease. But if someone is continually breathing through the mouth, this dries out the helpful salvia, leading to oral health issues. 

How to stop it 

If mouth breathing is due to temporary illness or nasal congestion, it is best to use a nasal decongestant, saline spray or medication. Once the sinus infection or cold clears up, the mouth breathing should stop, too! If mouth breathing is habitual, exercise and propping a pillow up while sleeping can help. Keeping one’s nose clean and actively practicing breathing through the nose might help correct the habit.  

If you suspect chronic mouth breathing, or notice symptoms, be sure to ask your dentist for advice! Jackson Dental can help develop a solution for you at your next appointment. Get scheduled by calling (573) 243-5200 or stopping by our office at 3100 E Jackson Blvd., Jackson, MO.