Effects of Sleeping With Your Mouth Open

It’s not uncommon to see people sleeping with their mouths open. But did you know that mouth breathing is in fact a common health issue that exists in almost every family?

While a healthy person can use both their nose and mouth to breathe, it is actually incorrect to breathe through our mouth. A person breathing normally through the nostrils inhales warm and moistened air into their lungs, whereas breathing orally lets in cold and dry air into our system and affects our oral health.  While we look at the many negative effects this has on our dental health and how to deal with it, let us first try to understand the symptoms and causes.

Symptoms of Mouth Breathing

The basic and first signs of oral breathing should not be taken lightly. Some vital symptoms are:

  • Dental problems and bite dysfunction
  • Bad breath
  • Trouble in swallowing
  • Dry mouth
  • Stuffy nose
  • Speech problem
  • Snoring

Causes of Oral Breathing

A partially or completely blocked nostril due to cold or allergies prevents smooth airflow inside the air passage. Some medical conditions that cause mouth breathing during sleep are:

  • Chronic cold
  • Allergies
  • Asthma
  • Inflamed tonsils
  • Adenoids
  • Nasal Septum
  • Sinus polyp
  • Structural defect in the jaw alignment
  • Xerostomia or taking excessive medication
  • A birth abnormality
  • Thumb sucking

Effects of Mouth Breathing During Sleep

Here are some complications that may arise from oral breathing:

  • Negative impact on dental health such as gum infection
  • Sleep apnea and a tendency of snoring
  • Asthma getting worse
  • Difficulty in speech and swallowing
  • Problem with jaw joints

Tips to Overcome Detrimental Effects of Oral Breathing

Occasional mouth breathing due to cold or nasal congestion is nothing to worry about but in the case of chronic oral breathing, a medical intervention is necessary to help the person breathe through their nose. After the root cause of the problem has been detected, it should be treated immediately. Solutions include:

  • Dental procedures
  • Proper medication depending on the condition or cause
  • Surgery (if required)
  • Deep breathing exercises
  • A CPAP machine to aid in easy breathing at night

Early Detection & Treatment

A thorough dental check up can determine how much one’s oral hygiene and dental health is affected from breathing through the mouth. An early sign of this condition can be seen in a child if he/she has parched gums or dry mouth. This has to be taken as a warning and treated without negligence. A surgery can remove a nasal obstruction, if any, and can give relief to the child.

Sometimes, a simple nasal wash can clear the obstruction in the air passage for breathing.  Apart from these harmful effects on dental hygiene and overall health, mouth breathing is also the cause of extreme discomfort in a person on both the physical as well as the psychological level, and therefore, should be treated at the onset.

And Remember, healthy teeth make a healthy smile!

Dr. Nishan Halim


Nishan Halim, DMD specializes in restorative and cosmetic dentistry, as well as preventive dentistry, which is at the heart of this Capitol Hill, Washington DC neighborhood dental center. He is committed to helping all his patients maintain healthy and attractive teeth. If you are missing teeth, contact Dr. Halim to schedule an appointment.

Share :
Related Posts