We have all been there before. We wake up from a long night’s sleep and find that our mouth’s insanely dry. Drinking water definitely helps, but there is a lingering bad taste in our mouth that only brushing can get rid of. This is typical of people who breathe through their mouths while sleeping, and while it may be hard to control, especially if you are sick, this habit can actually do quite a bit of harm to your teeth according to a recent study published in the Journal of Oral Rehabilitation.

Portrait of a sleeping man

pH and Your Mouth

Researchers from the University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand, found that breathing with your mouth while you sleep drastically drops the pH level of your mouth, making it extremely acidic and eroding the enamel of your teeth. At different stages during the night the pH level in individuals’ mouths dropped to an astonishing 3.6. To put this in perspective, our mouths are normally at a pH level of around 7 which is right in between acidic which is lower on the pH scale, and basic which is higher on the pH scale. Your typical sports drink, which has been shown to be damaging to your enamel, is at a pH level of 5.5. This means that breathing through your mouth while you sleep drops the pH of your mouth lower than if you were drinking a sports drink. Take into account the fact that the average person sleeps seven to eight hours per night. Although your mouth won’t always be that acidic, there’s still a long time for damage to your tooth enamel.

Breathe Easy

If you are sick, it can be nearly impossible to breathe through your nose at night, but it is important to remember that there are options available, such as nasal decongestant spray, that will help you breathe easier with a cold. Also, you should try to avoid drinking alcohol before bed, as alcohol relaxes the throat and can actually suppresses breathing and potentially lead to sleep apnea. If you are concerned about tooth erosion, then you should visit with your dentist about the state of your teeth. Dr. Dunayer at B&D Dental Excellence can help weigh your options and find the treatment that is right for you. If you would like to schedule an appointment, please give us a call at (845) 627-7645.