Can Sleeping With Your Mouth Open Cause Dental Problems?

When you have a bad cold, sleeping can be difficult. Although the common cold can cause headaches and fatigue – aspects that would seemingly help a person fall asleep – it can also cause enough nasal congestion to make the act of nighttime breathing incredibly challenging. For this reason, the average stuffy-nosed person is likely to end up sleeping with his mouth open until his nasal passageways are freed.

While some people are forced to sleep with their mouths open occasionally to account for cold-related congestion, others have a tendency to sleep with their mouths open all the time. Those who suffer from allergies may to sleep with their mouths open as a means of resting comfortably, while some simply prefer this method of breathing when dozing off. Regardless of what the reasoning behind this habit might be, some people can’t help but wonder what repercussions it might bring about. The question is: Can sleeping with your mouth open cause dental problems?

Dr. Joseph Pizzarello is a dentist at Pizzarello and Silvestro Family Dentistry, a practice that has been serving the Stoneham, Massachusetts area since 1995, and according to him, sleeping with your mouth open is unlikely to cause many – if any – issues on the dental front. While other nighttime habits such as teeth grinding can result in tooth loss and damage, sleeping with your mouth open is unlikely to take a toll on your teeth. On the other hand, sleeping with your mouth open can cause inflammation of the gums – a condition that might result in a fair degree of discomfort.

So does sleeping with your mouth open contribute to gum disease? According to Dr. Pizzarello, not necessarily, although it can combine with other mitigating factors to contribute to problems with the gums. When you sleep with your mouth open, you do, to an extent, give bacteria the added potential to grow. Therefore, if your dentist has reason to believe that your sleeping habits might put you at extra risk for gum disease, then he might choose to monitor you more closely for it in general.

So there you have it: Sleeping with your mouth open is not likely to cause you any dental problems. On the other hand, this particular habit does have certain medical implications. Specifically, those who sleep with their mouths open tend to wake up with sore or dry throats, and while humidifiers can help, they don’t always manage to do the trick. Additionally, sleeping with one’s mouth open can sometimes go hand in hand with drooling, which is something that just plain doesn’t sit well with some. Therefore, if sleeping with your mouth open is something that you’d rather not do, then you might want to consult with a doctor to see if there’s a way to remedy the problem. After all, the right type of bed-related setup or allergy treatment might spare you the hassle of waking up every morning feeling scratchy and dry. Then again, if the idea of sleeping with your mouth open doesn’t bother you, then from a dental perspective, there’s really no need to worry about it – and that’s something that should help you rest easy.

*Disclaimer: The information on this website is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your healthcare provider. We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with an appropriate healthcare provider.

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