When acidic foods, sugars, and bacteria party together in your mouth, you end up with plaque. If you don't deal with that plaque, it starts to dissolve away the enamel on your teeth and can create a cavity. Leave one untreated for too long, and the problem can spread to the middle of your teeth and cause an abscess.
The best solution to prevent cavities is, of course, trying your best to stop the formation of that plaque in the first place. We know to do this by brushing, flossing, and taking good care of our oral health, but what if the cavity is caused by something else, like how we breathe?
Yes, oral health issues can happen when we breathe predominantly through our mouths, and you can end up with a cavity on front tooth rather than on the more usual suspects in the back.
How does mouth breathing cause a cavity on front tooth?
While cavities generally occur on the rear teeth, they can happen on the front teeth too. Mouth breathing is what causes cavities on front teeth often and increases your risk of gum disease too. The danger arises mainly due to saliva. When you breathe with your mouth open, saliva dries up and is not present near the front teeth to neutralize the acids and bacteria that cause plaque. This kind of breathing creates an acidic pH in your mouth, allowing bacteria to thrive.
What causes mouth breathing?
Most patients who breathe primarily through their mouth tell me it is simply because they cannot breathe properly through their nose. While some conditions cause nose breathing to be difficult, most are actually treatable, such as nasal congestion. Other causes could be a deviated septum or enlarged adenoids, which may require a surgical fix.
The symptoms that most mouth breathers experience are;
Drool on your pillow after you sleep
Malocclusion (where the upper and lower teeth do not line up.
“Mouth breathing face” - in children only, as it affects the child's jaw development, creating a narrow face with a receding chin or jawline.
How is mouth breathing treated?
Treatment of mouth breathing depends on the cause. You can take precautions such as developing a good oral hygiene routine, staying hydrated and adjusting your sleeping position. Mouth tape can even help you shift your breathing to the nose.
It is possible to treat nasal congestion through medications such as antihistamines, nasal decongestants and sprays.
There are also adhesive strips called nasal dilators that can open the nasal passages to make nose breathing much more effortless. If your issue is due to a condition such as sleep apnea, then your doctor might suggest a CPAP machine.
Surgical intervention may be required if your mouth breathing is due to adenoids or your tonsils. If the cause is structural, appliances to widen the palate can be used, or even orthodontic treatments such as braces.
Myofunctional therapy can also be used, with literature demonstrating that it can decrease sleep apnea-hypoxia index by around 50%.
Whatever treatment option is best for you, it is essential to start it ASAP, not only for the health of your teeth but for your overall quality of sleep and general health.
What is the outlook for mouth breathing?
The outcome depends on how early you tackle the issue. Catching any developmental problems in childhood and having them corrected can prevent future front teeth cavities and improve energy levels and behavior in children. If chronic mouth breathing is caused by the shape of your face or nose, it may not be entirely preventable, but if you are an adult mouth breather, then you can try the following;
Use saline nasal sprays.
Sleep on your back with your head elevated.
Keep a clean house to avoid allergens.
Make sure you have air filters in your air conditioner and clean them regularly.
Consciously practice nose breathing to get yourself into the habit. Yoga and meditative breathing exercises are great things to try.
Chew sugarless gum to promote a healthy oral pH.
Help! I already have a cavity on front tooth. What are my treatment options?
Can cavities on front teeth be fixed? Yes. Depending on the severity of the front tooth cavity, there are various treatment options available on how to fix a cavity on the front tooth. Front tooth fillings are the most common, and luckily these days are not silver-gray.
A crown or veneer may be suggested if the tooth is severely suffering from front tooth decay. If the cavity has gone too deep into the tooth, killing the nerves, a root canal might be necessary.
If your dentist is lucky enough to catch the cavity in the very early stages, you may only need a fluoride treatment to stop the decay and restore the enamel.
Are fillings on the front tooth noticeable, and is there anything I should know before visiting the dentist?
Front tooth fillings are usually not noticeable. The composite filling material is white, meaning it can blend in with your teeth for the most part. However, there may be slight discrepancies in the shade of white. If this concerns you, talk to your dental care provider about cosmetic dentistry options such as dental crowns or veneers.
Before the procedure, try not to eat anything for a few hours, so there are no bits of food in your mouth that could be irritating. After the procedure, avoid hard foods for a few hours and don’t eat anything too hot or cold for a few days.