Open-mouth breathing during sleep will have you waking up during the night to drink water followed by trips to the bathroom because mouth breathing dries out the mouth and tongue.
The problem is worse for people on some medications (there are over 500 medications that produce dry mouth as a side effect) who spend the night breathing through their mouth. Everybody opens their mouth at some time during the night and many close it again after a short while but as we age our facial and lip muscles weaken and our mouth stays open during sleep. When the mouth opens the tongue drops from the roof of the mouth and falls back towards the throat often causing snoring and waking up with a dry mouth, dry throat, bad breath, stuffy or blocked nose and feeling tired.
About 10 per cent of the general population and 25 per cent of older people have dry mouth syndrome – not enough saliva (spit) in the mouth. A dry mouth is a symptom of an underlying problem, rather than a disease in itself. A number of things may cause a persistently dry mouth, including mouth breathing during sleep, prescription medications, medical treatments and certain autoimmune diseases such as Sjogren’s syndrome.
Dry mouth syndrome is also called xerostomia. Dry mouth symptoms may include:
Waking up during the night with a dry mouth
Waking up in the morning with a dry mouth or throat
Saliva that feels thick or stringy
Rough, dry tongue
The tongue tending to stick against the roof of the mouth
Problems with chewing or swallowing (particularly dry foods such as biscuits)
Dry and cracked lips
Susceptibility to oral thrush infections
High rate of tooth decay
A prickly, burning sensation in the mouth
Depending on the cause, dry mouth syndrome may be associated with symptoms outside the mouth, including:
Dry and itchy eyes
Dry nose or throat
Reduced sense of smell
Joint pains or stiffness
In women, frequent vaginal thrush infections.
The salivary glands are located around the mouth and throat. These glands make saliva, which is pumped into the mouth along tiny channels called salivary ducts.
The protective role of saliva:
A dry mouth significantly increases the risk of tooth decay because saliva:
Contains components that can directly attack the bacteria that cause decay
Has anti-fungal properties
Helps to destroy viruses
Neutralises the acids produced by plaque
Contains phosphorus and calcium. These substances are vital to the ongoing process of remineralisation, which is the rebuilding of tooth enamel (the hard surface layer that protects the tooth)
Moistens food, which enables comfortable swallowing
Helps with the formation of particular sounds in speech
Boosts sensation inside the mouth and allows for the experience of pain, food texture and taste.
You can reduce the incidence of many unpleasant oral conditions just by keeping your lips together all night. You will also look more appealing with a closed mouth.
Visit www.sleepqplus.com to find out about sleepQ+.
Updated August 14th 2017
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