Sleeping With Mouth Open: Causes, Symptoms, Treatments, Side Effects

Breathing provides our body with the oxygen it requires to survive. Moreover, it also allows us to release carbon dioxide and waste. We have two air passageways to our lungs; and they are nose and the mouth. Healthy individuals use both their nose and their mouth to breathe. Breathing via the mouth only becomes essential when you have a nasal congestion because of allergies or a cold. Breathing through the mouth can also help you get oxygen to your muscle faster, when you are exercising strenuously.

It must, however, be noted that breathing through the mouth all the time, including while you are sleeping, can result in serious problems. If you are sleeping with mouth open, it might be because of you might be breathing through the mouth while sleeping. Let us know more about the condition below.

Sleeping With Mouth Open

Causes Of Sleeping With Mouth Open:

Anytime, airflow is restricted via the nose, breathing is re-routed to the mouth, and this results in mouth breathing. When mouth breathing occurs during sleep, and the mouth is open for a long period of time, there may be dry mouth, tongue and gums. Usually conditions like enlarged adenoids, sinus infections, nasal congestion, enlarged tonsils, along with the shape of the nose, and the shape and size of the jaw, cause an obstruction or blockage in the nasal passage; and this would result in mouth breathing. This may cause you to sleep with your mouth open.

If you are sleeping with mouth open, you might be congested or may be having episodes of sleep apnea. In such a condition you must see your doctor, and treat it as soon as possible.

There may also be some sinus abnormalities in you that can result in breathing with your mouth open, also during your sleep.

Apart from this, some individuals also develop a habit of breathing through their mouth, instead of their nose, even after the nasal obstruction or congestion clears.

Stress and anxiety can also result in mouth breathing. Stress activates the sympathetic nervous system, resulting in shallow, rapid and an abnormal breathing. So, this may also be one cause, why you might be sleeping with mouth open.

Symptoms Of Sleeping With Mouth Open:

One of the most crucial symptoms of sleeping with mouth open is that your mouth feels dry in the morning. This dryness of the mouth can contribute to fuzzy-feeling tongue and also bad breath. So, sleeping with your mouth open may result in dry mouth.

It is not only the mouth that feels bone dry, but if you sleep with mouth open, your throat may also feel a bit sore from the lack of moisture. Your mouth may feel sticky and tongue may appear red and raw. Apart from this, your teeth may also feel dry and you may also notice chapped lips if you are sleeping with mouth open.

Side Effects Of Sleeping With Mouth Open:

As per a recent study published in the Journal Of Oral Rehabilitation, it is found that sleeping with mouth open can be even worse for your teeth than the fizzy drinks. This is because the air flow through your mouth dries the mouth out and removes both, the protective plaque on the teeth and the saliva, which are able to kill bacteria in the mouth, naturally.

Sleeping with mouth open or mouth breathing at night can result in a number of health issues such as tooth decay, dry mouth and lips, bad breath, and even fatigue. If you are sleeping with your mouth open, then you need to consult with your doctor and get an effective solution for this.

Treatments For Sleeping With Mouth Open:

If you are sleeping with mouth open and having a dry mouth in the morning, what you can do is drink a glass of water as soon you wake up and also eat a saltine. The salt in the cracker will stimulate the saliva production in the mouth, which would help in alleviating the symptoms of dry mouth.

Brushing your teeth soon after you wake up, will help in removing the bad breath caused due to sleeping with mouth open.

It must be mentioned that treatment for sleeping with mouth open, depends on the exact underlying cause. You need to see your doctor and get self diagnosed and treated well. If you are sleeping with mouth open because of nasal congestion that is causing you to breathe through the mouth while at sleep, you need to take medications that can treat nasal congestion due to colds and allergies.

If the cause of mouth breathing or sleeping with mouth open is obstructive sleep apnea, you may have to wear a face mask appliance at night, called CPAP or continuous positive air pressure therapy. A CPAP delivers air to your nose and mouth via a mask.

In case the mouth breathing is due to swollen tonsils and swollen adenoids, surgical removal of the swollen tonsils and adenoids can be advised. This would help with breathing through the nose and help you get rid of sleeping with mouth open.


In case you are congested, do visit your doctor, who may recommend a nasal decongestant that allows you to breathe freely during the night and this would prevent you from sleeping with mouth open. Apart from this, you can also put an additional pillow under your head while sleeping, which may help to reduce congestion and help you to sleep with your mouth closed.


So, by now you must be aware about the conditions that might be causing you sleep with mouth open. If you have nasal congestion or any other issue that might be resulting in mouth breathing or making you sleep with mouth open, you must see your doctor on an immediate basis.

Also Read:

Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:September 3, 2018

Recent Posts

Related Posts