Everyone has experienced stuffiness due to having a cold. It can force you to breathe through your mouth temporarily, but what happens when this becomes your main way of transporting oxygen? While it may seem harmless at first, the reality is that mouth breathing, on a regular basis, can have some negative effects on your oral health. Continue reading to learn about the problems that can arise and what you can do to prevent it in the future.
The Problem with Mouth Breathing
The main issue with mouth breathing is that it reduces the amount of saliva, creating a dry mouth. This is a big problem, as saliva plays a key role in controlling oral bacteria growth and neutralizing acids.
Bad breath is one of the first indicators of dry mouth. It can also contribute to crooked teeth, snoring and increased sinus and airway infections. When there isn’t enough saliva produced, there is also a greater chance of tooth decay and the development of gum disease. This shouldn’t be taken lightly, as untreated gum disease can encourage heart disease, cardiac arrest and stroke.
How to Prevent Mouth Breathing
Here are some of the steps you can take to prevent mouth breathing and maintain healthier teeth and gums:
- Use a saline spray – Consider using a saline spray two or more times a day to help clean your nasal passages and prevent any drainage that could lead to mouth breathing.
- Change your sleep position – If you sleep on your back, be sure to keep your head elevated to better open your airway and promote nasal breathing.
- Maintain a clean environment – Maintaining a tidy house will help to reduce allergens that could irritate your nasal passages and cause congestion.
- Perform regular HVAC maintenance – If you’re behind on changing the air filters in your house, make it a priority to install new ones. Clogged filters aren’t able to prevent dust and allergens from entering the space.
How a Dental Visit Can Help
When you visit a dentist for preventive care, you’ll receive a thorough cleaning and examination of your mouth, teeth and gums. From his or her bird’s eye position, the dentist will be able to notice certain indications of mouth breathing, which may include tooth decay, gum puffiness or a dry mouth.
If any issues are discovered, a plan of action can be developed to address them before they worsen. In some cases, it will take a coordinated effort with your primary care physician. This is especially the case if a medication you’re taking is causing dry mouth.
What’s most important in these situations is to be proactive about your oral health. By getting in for a dental visit, you can overcome mouth breathing and dryness, and any other dental issues that may be on the horizon.
About the Author
Dr. Nicholas Brong earned his dental degree from the University of California in San Francisco. He has since gone on to receive advanced postgraduate training in such areas as dental implantation and laser dentistry, which allows him to offer comprehensive care options to his patients. Dr. Brong offers preventive dentistry at Zumbro Family Dental, and he can be reached for more information or to schedule a visit through his website.