Sleep Apnea

What goes on in a sleeping mouth

Sleep allows the body to rest, heal, and rejuvenate. While the whole body works towards being refreshed for the next day, the mouth can suffer from a habit that can be counterproductive and cause some people to wake up with jaw pain, sore teeth, dry mouth and bad breath. For the next 2 articles we will talk about some unpleasant things that can occur in the mouth during sleep, starting with a big one:


According to statistics Canada 30 % of adult dental office patients suffer from some level of sleep disorder breathing. It affects almost one billion people worldwide, leaving those afflicted feeling tired, accident prone, moody, depressed, and susceptible to a host of significant medical concerns, often culminating in a shortened life span.

What is sleep apnea? It involves disturbed breathing during sleep and is a part of spectrum of breathing issues, the most benign being simple snoring causing by soft tissue vibration, followed by the narrowing of the airway leading to strained breathing and finally to intermittent full collapse of the airway preventing breathing all together.

The gold standard therapy is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP)

Another conservative option for patients that can’t tolerate the CPAP machine is Oral Appliance Therapy which involves the use of an oral appliance to reposition the jaw and prevent it from dropping back during sleep, resulting in a more patent airway. If you need more information about this therapy don’t hesitate to ask us about it! Adjunctive therapies such as modifying sleep position, losing weight, improving fitness and other strategies are used to help manage the sleep apnea problem even further.

If you suspect you might suffer from sleep apnea start by taking an Epworth Sleepiness Scale test or Stop-Bang questionnaire.



Mouth breathing dries out the mouth due to constant air flow through it. It’s common in those with narrow nasal passages, upper respiratory conditions, allergies or sleep apnea. In children mouth breathing may cause crooked teeth, facial deformities or poor growth. In adults, since it is associated with dry mouth, it may cause periodontal disease, bad breath and cavities. The gums around upper front teeth may bleed when touched, be bright red in appearance and be moderately inflamed. The air passing through the nose is being warmed and moistened -meaning less sore throats – it also allows you to take deeper breaths which engages the lower lungs and supplies more oxygen to your body. The air which passes through nose gets filtered as well from allergens, bacteria, viruses etc. The mucus of the airway linings collects potential contaminants where they are destroyed by nasal enzymes before they can enter the body.

If you find that you are a mouth breather – make sure you seek the cause of it and have it treated if possible. Let’s use the nose for what it was meant to be used for!

Read next month’s article where we will discuss other problems that can occur during your sleep like…teeth grinding!

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