Breathing through your mouth usually only happens at certain times: when you have a cold and
can’t breathe through your nose, possibly during intensive exercise, and if you have a medical
condition such as asthma.
However, mouth breathing isn’t considered normal and it can even be harmful to your oral
health. If you breathe through your mouth regularly, you should be aware of how it might
impact your smile. Here’s how mouth breathing could negatively impact dental health!
Decrease Saliva Production
One of the biggest effects of mouth breathing is causing dry mouth through decreased saliva
production. The air going in and out of your mouth causes your oral cavity to be much drier
than it would normally be. Dry mouth can lead to all kinds of oral health problems, including
chronic bad breath and an increased risk for gum disease.
Saliva is important to your teeth and gums. Not only does it help balance bacteria, but it
provides a buffer between your teeth and harmful plaque. When you breathe through your
mouth, you expose your oral cavity to bacteria that would normally be resolved through
adequate saliva production.
Cause Bacteria to Attack Tooth Enamel
Since your mouth is drier as a result of mouth breathing, this can lead to an increased risk for
cavities. Without saliva to protect your teeth, bacteria are free to attack tooth enamel, wearing
away this protective layer of your teeth to expose the softer tissues underneath. Even if you
brush and floss regularly, mouth breathing could disrupt your oral health.
People who breathe through their mouth may increase their risk for cavities. If you can’t
breathe through your mouth for whatever reason, talk to your dentist about what you can do
to keep your tooth enamel healthy and protect your smile from decay.
Can Affect Mouth Development
If your child breathes through his or her mouth, this could actually affect the development of
their smile. Mouth breathing may result in a severe overbite as your child grows up because it
encourages the upper jaw to grow more than the lower one. Mouth breathing may also cause
gummy smile, which is when there’s too much gum tissue covering the teeth.
If your child gets used to breathing through their mouth—some children simply do this out of
habit—it may cause sleep problems too. In adults, mouth breathing is affiliated with snoring,
which could point to obstructive sleep apnea. If your child breathes through their mouth
regularly, talk to your dentist or schedule an appointment with their primary care doctor to
ensure nothing is preventing them from breathing through their nose.
Mouth breathing isn’t ideal in any situation, but it could be harmful if it’s done constantly or on
a regular basis. Unless you have some type of health issue preventing you from breathing
through your nose, your nose is the best bet to keep your mouth moist and less likely to be
affected by harmful oral bacteria. Talk to your dentist about your mouth breathing to see if it’s
affected your smile!