Home / My Blog / Dental Caries And Mouth Breathing

Is there a connection between dental caries and mouth breathing? The answer to this question may surprise you, as it surprises many of the patients in my myofunctional therapy clinic. 

The answer is definitely yes! In fact, the connection between dental caries and mouth breathing is so strong that I generally like to see a reduction in caries and an improvement in general dental health over the course of one of my myofunctional therapy programs. 

Dental Caries and Mouth Breathing

What’s The Connection Between Dental Caries And Mouth Breathing? 

Well, as in most of the oral myofunctional disorders that I see, it boils down to an open mouth and a mouth breathing habit. We should breathe through the nose almost all of the time. This is how we’ve evolved to breathe over the course of millennia, and it’s the best way to ensure optimum oral health.

But when we breathe through the mouth, we’re effectively bypassing a beautifully designed system and opening the door to a range of health problems.

In the case of dental caries, mouth breathing can affect the oral bacteria. We all have an oral microbiome – millions of bacteria that live in our mouth. These bacteria are usually in perfect balance and cause no problems.

When we breathe through the mouth, the delicate balance of these bacteria can change. This can cause people to experience changes in their oral health, including dental caries and gum disease. Mouth breathing is an often-overlooked cause of chronic dental problems. This is particularly true in people who have a genetic predisposition to dental issues.

Unfortunately, depending on their genetics, some people can take great care of their teeth and still have ongoing dental problems. They can brush and floss regularly, reduce their sugar intake, see a hygienist every six months, use a WaterPik, and basically do everything right, but they still have dental issues. But for some of them, if they’re breathing through the mouth, a simple shift to nasal breathing could have a big impact.

These changes in oral pH can affect the teeth, causing caries. This study published by the Journal of Oral Rehabilitation states that “…mouth breathing during sleep is related to a decrease in intraoral pH compared with normal breathing during sleep, and this has been proposed as a causal factor for dental erosion and caries”.

Mouth Breathing At Night Is Also A Problem

Even if you only breathe through your mouth at night, the oral bacteria can still be affected. When you’re asleep and breathing through your mouth, saliva is not able to circulate and moisten the oral tissues. This means that the moist mucous membranes can dry out.

It’s very common to wake up with a dry mouth in the morning if you’ve been mouth breathing all night long. This is a sign that your oral environment may be changing, and that your risk for caries is higher.

If you breathe through your mouth and find that you have a lot of oral problems including caries, then working with a myofunctional therapist is a great idea.

It’s so important to make the switch to nasal breathing and address any other underlying oral myofunctional disorders and habits. Once you do, you may find that you experience major improvements in your oral health. And given how closely our overall health is tied to our oral health, that’s great news.

 
 

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