Mouth breathing and teeth health

Whether it’s due to allergies, because you snore or simply just a habit you’ve developed over the years, did you know mouth breathing can contribute to tooth decay and dental problems?

So, if you, your partner or your child regularly breathe through your mouth rather than your nose, here’s what you need to know…

Mouth breathing

Ideally humans are supposed to breathe through their nose, allowing the external air to be warmed and moistened as it enters the sinus system and lungs.

But in some people mouth breathing is common practice. This means air is drawn through the mouth over the teeth and into the lungs, and that can have a whole range of effects on both the position and condition of teeth.

Meanwhile, mouth breathing is caused by a variety of factors.

In some people, it’s because they habitually snore or suffer obstructive sleep apneoa.

In others, it’s due to allergies like hay fever, which regularly result in a blocked nose, and for others still it’s a simple habit that has developed over the years.

Regardless of the reason, the impact on your teeth is the same.

What mouth breathing does to your teeth

Mouth breathing has a range of effects on the health of the teeth, some of which are long-term while others can be remedied.

But if you are a mouth breather, it’s important you take note and see your dentist more regularly to address the potential impacts, which can include:

Decay and gum disease

The main problem with mouth breathing is that it dries out saliva, which can affect that all-important pH balance inside your mouth. As Medical Daily explains, once that pH balance begins to drop, teeth start to lose their minerals, and when that happens, they’re less resistant to decay, discolouration and gum inflammation.

Meanwhile, saliva works to flush away food debris. It also coats the teeth and helps keep acid at bay. Acid breaks down the teeth coating leaving it more prone to decay.

Bad breath

With less saliva to protect the teeth and refresh the mouth, it also stands to reason, mouth breathers are more prone to bad breath. This is further exacerbated if the teeth start to decay.

Orthodontic issues

A body of research also indicates mouth breathing has much greater implications for the formation of the jaw in children.

In fact, the US National Library of Medicine notes mouth breathing is frequently associated with orthodontic problems. These include a narrow palate, underdevelopment of the upper jaw and cross bite.

What should you do?

If you, your partner or child are a mouth breather, ideally you should get to the cause of the problem to prevent further damage.

That might involve treatment for allergies or seeing a sleep specialist if mouth breathing is attributed to snoring or sleep apnoea.

However, good dental hygiene and regularly visiting your dentist can also assist.

In terms of dental health, those who regularly mouth breathe should:

  • Brush their teeth at least twice daily using a fluoride toothpaste
  • See their dentist at least twice a year for a check-up
  • Consult an orthodontist for mouth breathing in children (the Australian Society of Orthodontists recommends children should first see an orthodontist at about the age of seven.)

About Brite Dental

Brite Dental is a community-focused dental practice, committed to ensuring you and your family receive the highest quality of care in a warm and professional environment.

Offering a full range of dental services ranging, from children’s dentistry through to high-end cosmetic dentistry, we are conveniently located in central Panania.

You can learn more about our dental services here, or contact us to book your next appointment.