A recent study published in the Journal of Oral Rehabilitation found that those who breathe through the mouth while sleeping had a greater risk of tooth decay. Why? The answer has to do with pH levels.
pH levels are used to measure the acidity or alkalinity of a liquid, and runs on a scale from 1-14. For example, pure distilled water is considered neutral and has a pH level of 7, while milk of magnesia has a pH level of about 10. Substances with a pH level under 7 are considered to be acidic, such as lemon juice or vinegar (pH levels near 2).
When breathing through the nose, study participants had an average neutral pH level of 7. However, when sleeping with a nose clip that forced mouth breathing, pH levels were found to be significantly lower, between 3.5 and 6.6. In terms of context, researchers made sure to point out that tooth enamel starts to break down when oral pH levels drop below 5.5, the critical threshold.
Open-mouth breathing during sleep has been linked to an oral environment that’s more acidic, which is a major cause of tooth enamel erosion and other symptoms of tooth decay such as gum sensitivity, bad breath, and toothache.
It may be helpful to find out whether or not you sleep with an open mouth, in order to take extra preventative oral healthcare measures. A dry mouth upon awakening is one sign. But without a team of researchers monitoring your sleep, it’s difficult to say. However, a home sleep study is a useful method of detecting and evaluating a variety of sleep patterns such as mouth breathing, sleep apnea, or snoring. ZendyHealth can help you save 20-50% on a sleep study so that you can identify any harmful sleep apnea symptoms and even prevent the tooth decay that open-mouthed breathing may be causing.