If you suffer from regular snoring, you’re not alone. More than 90 million people snore on a nightly basis, with causes ranging from too much caffeine or alcohol to sleep apnea or allergies. For some, the issue is physical: snoring can stem from how your airway or throat is structured, creating narrow passageways and chronic nasal complications.
Snoring affects much more than your ability to get a good night’s sleep (or your partner’s). You may wake up feeling foggy or exhausted, which takes its own toll on your mental and physical health. Aside from the stress and frustration of never getting a full night of rest, there are implications for your oral health, too.
Could snoring actually be hurting your oral health? Yes, it absolutely could be. Keep reading to find out why.
What Does Snoring Do to Your Mouth?
There are a few steps that happen before the tell-tale sound of snoring. First, your airway becomes blocked. Second, your mouth compensates for that blockage by opening a little wider to let more oxygen flow through. The combination of a blocked airway and an adjusted position for your mouth causes friction. As your nasal cavity, throat tissues, or tongue start rattling, you start snoring.
Here’s the problem with snoring: because your mouth is letting in more air, your salivary glands have to work harder to keep your mouth wet. This eventually becomes impossible to keep up with, and your saliva production stops altogether. Without consistent saliva production, your mouth is at risk for a host of oral health complications.
Saliva helps keep our gums and cheeks nourished by delivering proteins and minerals. It also shields tooth enamel, fights bad breath, and protects against gum disease and tooth decay by washing away harmful bacteria. The consequences of improper saliva delivery range from halitosis, periodontal disease, xerostomia (dry mouth), and accelerated tooth decay.
How to Decrease (or Stop) Snoring
Not all snoring has the same cause—and for some people, there may be a few contributing factors in their nightly rattle. For example, if you think you may have sleep apnea, where you stop breathing while sleeping, your best course of action is to speak with a sleep specialist. If your snoring is not caused by sleep apnea, you can try making lifestyle changes:
- If you are a smoker, cut back or quit entirely
- Decrease caffeine consumption throughout the day
- Limit sugary foods and alcohol consumption
- If you are overweight, getting on a weight loss plan may help
You may not be able to cut snoring out altogether, but you can cut back on the damage to your mouth! No matter the cause, keeping up with your oral hygiene routine is crucial if you are a routine snorer. Make sure to brush, floss, rinse with mouthwash, drink plenty of water, and maintain regular checkups with your dentist.
If you are worried that your snoring might be impacting your oral health, give Steger Smiles a call. We’ll be happy to examine your mouth for any tell-tale signs of damage from snoring and help you find a solution!