Readers ask, we answer

Jackson asks:

"How can I protect my smile while sleeping?"


Hi, Jackson! A number of dental dangers can occur in your mouth overnight. Here’s a closer look at what can happen, and what you can do about it:

1. Bacteria buildup


Saliva usually helps wash away bacteria from your mouth. Because your body produces much less saliva when sleeping, your mouth accumulates bacteria that can cause bad breath.

Tips for relief

Brush, floss and rinse with a fluoridated mouthwash before you go to bed and again in the morning.

2. Mouth breathing


If you have a stuffy nose, you may be breathing through your mouth when you sleep. Mouth breathing is one of the most common causes of dry mouth, which can lead to bad breath, gum disease and cavities.

Tips for relief:

Drink water before bed and keep water by your bedside in case you wake up thirsty. If you’re congested, use an over-the-counter saline mist and sleep with your head elevated.

3. Snoring


More than 90 million Americans snore every night.1 Like mouth breathing, snoring can cause dry mouth.

Tips for relief:

Make sure you get enough sleep regularly so you aren’t overly tired. Sleep on your side, hydrate throughout the day and avoid alcohol before bedtime.

4. Teeth grinding (bruxism)


Almost 2 in 5 parents say their children show signs of teeth grinding,2 while only 8% of adults grind their teeth at night.3 This can cause teeth pain, sensitivity, chips and fractures. It can also lead to headaches, earaches and jaw pain.

Tips for relief:

Reduce stress and avoid caffeinated drinks after dinner. Talk with your dentist about a mouth guard for you or your children.


Check with your physician and dentist to learn more about these potential solutions. Together, you can address your specific situation and better protect your smile while you sleep.

Have a question you’d like us to answer? Send it to grin@deltadental.com, and it could be featured in an upcoming issue.