Dental benefits

What happens in your mouth when you’re snoring?

If you’re one of the roughly 90 million Americans who snore,1 you may start to experience some unexpected issues in your mouth. Snoring may be a nuisance, but it can also damage teeth if it’s severe enough.

After a long night of snoring, you could notice that your mouth feels especially dry when you wake up. This is because your mouth may be open when you snore, causing saliva to dry up. Saliva washes away bacteria before it has time to produce acids that damage teeth. It also continually renews the tooth surface by supplying it with vital minerals. As a result, dry mouth may worsen morning breath, and more seriously, increase your likelihood of tooth decay and gum disease.

To keep dry mouth from harming your smile, maintain regular dental visits so your dentist can spot issues early and recommend a remedy as needed. Some at-home remedies include sleeping with a humidifier nearby, avoiding drinks that cause dry mouth like caffeine and alcohol, and keeping a glass of water by your bed to stay hydrated throughout the night. Talk to your dentist, who will also be able to provide additional treatment options. 

If you or a loved one are concerned about your snoring, there may be a few options to consider. After ordering an overnight sleep study and reviewing the results, your physician may recommend one of the three most common corrective measures:

• A machine called a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) that constantly pushes air through your airway to keep it from narrowing.

• A customized plastic mouthpiece – made by your dentist and similar in appearance to a mouth guard or retainer – that can keep the airway open by repositioning the mouth. Contact your dental benefits provider to find out if this type of appliance is covered. 

• A surgery that removes some of the tissue in the back of the throat.

By working with your physician and dentist, you can keep snoring and dry mouth in check – and hopefully sleep a bit easier.