Sleeping with your mouth open can be detrimental for your oral health as suggested by researchers as they say that it may promote decay and weakening of teeth.
Joanne Choi, post-graduate student of Otago University, had analyzed 10 healthy volunteers in the study.
Choi attached a nose clip on each volunteer's nose so that they breathe though their mouths. Choi also clipped a small device on the teeth of the participants to measure acidity and temperature and the device also transmitted the data to an external recorder.
A slow increase in acidity was noted in all the participant's mouths during sleep, but it that increase in acidity was even more over a longer period when the participants were forced to mouth-breathe.
The average pH level during sleep with the nose clips was a mildly acidic 6.6 (almost close to neutral, 7), but the levels reached 3.6 with forced mouth-breathing, which is similar to the pH level found after drinking an orange juice.
Tooth enamel starts decaying at pH 5.5; therefore, 3.6 pH is significantly more acidic than the critical threshold.
Acidity can cause tooth decay or cavities, as in natural phenomena tooth decay is caused due to acid produced by harmful bacteria that process sugars in the mouth. The acid attacks the tooth enamel and also its underlying layer, dentin and makes the tooth vulnerable to wearing down.
In an interview to NZ Herald, Choid said, ""This study is the first to continuously monitor intra-oral pH changes in healthy individuals over several days. Our findings support the idea that mouth-breathing may indeed be a causal factor for dental diseases such as enamel erosion and caries."
Choi plans to do further research on this to check what can help to address the mouth-breathing acidity issues.
The study was published in Journal of Oral Rehabilitation.