Snoring can be frustrating for anyone else who lives with you. Apart from potentially keeping them up at night, it can even interrupt your own sleep, making everyone feel tired during the day. But that’s not the only problem with snoring. You might not realize it, but snoring can also impact your dental health. Let’s take a closer look at how snoring could cause problems for the health of your teeth and gums.
What Causes Snoring?
When you snore, it’s because your airway is blocked, either partially or fully, while you sleep. Most people snore from time to time, and you might snore for a number of different reasons. Sometimes a snore is just the temporary result of congestion or illness, but if you regularly snore, there’s likely a bigger reason. Snoring can also occur because of:
- Sleep apnea
- The anatomy of your mouth and sinuses
- Alcohol use
- The position you sleep in
- Your weight
For people who snore regularly, it could eventually impact their dental health.
Snoring and Dry Mouth
Since snoring is the result of a blocked airway, many people who snore open their mouths when they sleep to allow them to breathe more easily. As you probably know from any time you’ve had a stuffy nose, breathing through your mouth while you sleep causes you to wake up with a sticky, dry mouth. That’s because your saliva is no longer able to move around your mouth and keep it lubricated. So why does that matter?
Your saliva is responsible for keeping your mouth healthy by lubricating it, but it also helps your mouth:
- Maintain a healthy pH
- Limit bacterial growth
- Neutralize acids
- Wash food remnants away
Because your saliva is able to do all of this, it plays an important role in helping to prevent tooth decay and gum disease. However, if you regularly sleep with an open mouth, you’ll probably begin to notice that the lack of saliva at night is causing problems in your mouth. If you’re snoring, dry mouth will most likely cause you to wake up with a sticky, bad-tasting mouth most mornings, and you may even notice changes in the way your tongue feels.
How Snoring Causes Bad Breath
In addition to causing your mouth to feel and taste unpleasant in the mornings, snoring causes bad breath, too. This bad breath is actually a side effect of snoring and dry mouth. When your mouth doesn’t have sufficient saliva, you may end up with food remnants stuck in parts of your mouth and teeth your toothbrush didn’t catch. This food begins to decompose inside your mouth, allowing the bacteria in your mouth to grow more than usual. Gross, right? Together, that excess of bacteria and decomposition of food inside your mouth causes an unpleasant odor.
If snoring and dry mouth continue, you may have other oral health problems, including tooth decay, oral infections, and sores. The lack of saliva in your mouth only exacerbates these problems, causing a decline in your dental health.
How to Address Snoring and Dry Mouth
If your snoring causes bad breath and you’re experiencing adverse effects to your oral health as a result of your snoring and dry mouth, it’s time to take action. You will most likely want to see both your dentist and your primary care physician to address the issue. Your dentist may be able to identify the reason for your snoring. However, if they can’t, they may refer you to your primary care doctor or a sleep specialist. In the meantime, your dentist can help you address the impacts to your oral health and provide you with treatments and oral care strategies to help counteract your dry mouth symptoms.
In addition, you should see your doctor to discuss what might be causing your snoring. You may need multiple tests, including X-rays, a CT, or other imaging to check your airways, sinuses, and nasal passages to help identify problems. Your doctor may recommend a sleep study to identify apnea or other sleep problems. From there, your doctor will be able to guide you toward the right treatment. You may be able to resolve your snoring and dry mouth with nasal strips to open your nasal passages or by stopping alcohol use before bed. Or, if it’s a more serious issue, like sleep apnea, you may need a CPAP machine to keep your airways open at night.
Treat Snoring to Protect Your Health
Discovering the cause of your snoring, and treating it, is essential for taking care of your health. Not only will that information help you sleep better in the long run, which is vital to your well being, but it can also stop the damage done to your oral health by snoring and dry mouth. Even more importantly, your oral health is connected to your overall health. Protecting the health of your mouth and the quality of your sleep can actually help your entire body stay much healthier.
Dr. Kami Hoss—dental expert, dentist, and dad—has spent the last 20 years studying the connection between oral health and overall health. To learn more about the mouth-body connection, reserve a copy of his forthcoming book, If Your Mouth Could Talk. You’ll learn about how each aspect of your health works together, and why your oral health is more important than you think. Finding a solution to your snoring could help protect the health of your mouth, plus it could protect the health of your entire body, as well.