Sleeping with Mouth Open

Getting adequate sleep every night is important for your mental and physical well-being. Sleeping with your mouth open will have bad influence on your sleep quality, and can lead to several health complications. Are there ways to overcome the issue? Let's find out now.

Side Effects of Sleeping with Mouth Open

Sleeping with your mouth open can give rise to several health problems. It is not the natural way to sleep. Here are some of the most common side effects associated with it.

1. It May Cause You to Snore

One of the reasons why you snore is that you sleep with your mouth open. Your mouth may drop open when you sleep in an uncomfortable position. The muscles of your palate will also relax in this situation, which will make your uvula and palate vibrate as you inhale. On this occasion, you will snore.

2. It May Lead to Sleep Apnea

When left untreated, snoring may eventually turn into a more serious condition called sleep apnea in which you stop breathing for some time while sleeping. This happens due to the irritation to your respiratory system. People with this condition often have to deal with disorientation during waking hours and extreme tiredness. Those people are also at a greater risk of having heart attacks.

3. It May Trigger Asthma

Your asthma symptoms may aggravate when sleeping with your mouth open. This happens mainly because the air you inhale through mouth goes directly into your lungs without being filtered by your nasal passages. It means you are more likely to inhale allergens, such as pollen, dust, or pet hair and get an asthma attack.

4. It May Cause Halitosis

Commonly known as bad breath, halitosis is the result of excessive growth of bacteria in your mouth. This happens because your mouth becomes dry while breathing by mouth. This in turn leaves less saliva in the mouth to get rid of bacteria. Inhaling certain allergens and bacteria through your mouth can also aggravate halitosis.

5. It Increases the Rate of Tooth Decay

Studies show that sleeping with mouth open increases your risk of tooth decay. Tooth decay in this case is worse at the back of your teeth. It happens because the acidity in your mouth drops from a neutral level (somewhere around 7.7) to a mildly acidic average level (somewhere around 6.6). The acidic environment in the mouth can erode tooth enamel and lead to tooth decay.

How to Stop Sleeping with Mouth Open

You can try a number of ways to deal with this problem. Sometimes, a simple adjustment like sleeping on your side resolves the issue. Some people feel better after the use of an oral vestibular shield. Here are some other ways to help you deal with this situation.

1. Identify the Causes

Knowing what causes your mouth to open while sleeping will help find the right treatment. Sometimes, it is the result of having large tonsils, and you have to remove it to solve the problem. Some people are habitual mouth breathers who need to practice nasal breathing. You may require orthodontic treatment if your mouth opens while sleeping due to a structural problem.

2. Eliminate Allergens

Being exposed to allergens will lead to nasal congestion, which causes mouth breathing while sleeping. Keep your house clean, use vacuum cleaners, and try everything you can to reduce and eliminate pollen, dust, and other allergens that can irritate your nasal passages. What's more, you'd better remove any dusty items from your bedroom.

3. Do Regular Exercises

You have to live an active lifestyle and exercise regularly. Yoga is the best choice to stop mouth breathing because it teaches how to breathe through your nose. Similarly, aerobic exercise may also help by training your heart and lungs. Exercise also helps by making your sympathetic nervous system work harder and preventing nasal congestion at night.

4. Elevate Your Head

Sleeping on your back is not going to help you resolve mouth breathing, so you may want to avoid it. At the same time, elevating your head when sleeping may help prevent nasal drip. This in turn keeps your nasal passages open and prevents congestion. Be sure to use pillows to elevate your head, but do not elevate it too much or you will end up dealing with neck pain.

5. Learn Breathing Techniques

Sleeping with mouth open for long will make the muscles of the mouth and face dysfunctional. It is therefore important to retrain your breathing pattern to help you breathe normally. Making conscious effort to breathe through your nose throughout the day to train your subconscious mind to do the same while sleeping. Do not leave your mouth open throughout the day. Keep reminding yourself that you have to breathe through your nose all the time. Certain breathing exercises may help as well. For instance, you can simply close your mouth and inhale through your nose. Then, exhale through your nose. Hold your breath by using your fingers to keep your nose closed. Let go of your nose when you want to take another breath. Inhale forcefully to make it work. 

6. Talk to a Myofunctional Therapist

It is a good idea to see a myofunctional therapist who will teach you to have more control over muscle patterning habits. They will help you learn how to breathe normally through your nose and help you confirm if you need orthodontic treatment to resolve your issue.

Note: What's more, using an OTC nasal spray or chinstraps will also help prevent mouth breathing.  

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