Do you sleep like a log, but do you always wake up dry-mouthed, with a sore throat and your mouth wide open? Then we bring grim tidings. Sleeping with your mouth open is claimed to be just as harmful as drinking soft drinks just before going to bed.
People who sleep with their mouths open breathe through their mouths, which dries out the oral cavity. Not only does this give an unpleasant feeling when you wake up, it also causes the protective film of saliva, which kills bacteria in the mouth, to be dissolved. This causes the acidity of the mouth to rise at night, which creates the perfect environment for dental erosion and decay.
Just as bad as a glass of soft drink
For the research scientist Joanne Choi and her team developed a device which can be attached to the teeth and which measures the acidity of the mouth. Normally, the pH of the mouth is 7.7, which means a relatively neutral environment. But when you sleep with your mouth open, this drops to a pH of 6.6, the study shows. In some participants, the acidity even rose to a pH of 3.6. This can then cause the tooth enamel to erode, just like drinking a glass of soft drinks or fruit juices before going to bed.
Since earlier studies showed that nearly 30 per cent of the men sleep with their mouths open, compared to only five per cent of the women, this is mainly a problem for males. "Our study is the first which notes the changes and pH of the mouth over several days. The results show that mouth-breathing can indeed be an important factor in dental decay", says Choi.