What Happens in your Mouth While you Sleep

what happens in mouth while sleeping

what happens in mouth while sleepingSan Francisco, Marin, and Oakland, CA

The typical person spends approximately one-third of their life sleeping. When you sleep, your body has the chance to physically and mentally rejuvenate, rest, and heal. Getting the right amount of deep, quality sleep is crucial to good overall health. However, while you sleep, things might be happening in your mouth that can cause problems. In this article, your San Francisco dentists at Glen Park Dental explore what happens in your mouth while you sleep.


Bruxism is the clinical term for grinding and clenching your teeth. Often triggered by stress, bruxism affects millions of people, many of whom never realize they are engaging in the habit because they only grind their teeth while they are asleep. Sleep bruxism doesn’t occur nonstop; rather, the grinding happens in episodes during the night, usually when you are transitioning from a deeper stage of the sleep cycle to a lighter stage. Symptoms of bruxism include sore jaws, teeth, or cheek muscles, as well as headaches. You may also experience dry mouth or dry lips. In extreme cases, the chewing surfaces of your teeth may be excessively worn. If you think you’re grinding your teeth or your partner notices this habit, you need to be treated by an experienced dentist in Oakland. Bruxism can devastate your teeth because of the excess force generated when you clench your jaws. At Glen Park Dental, we can provide you with a customized mouth guard to prevent further damage and treat your teeth grinding in San Francisco.

Acid reflux

Do you wake up in the middle of the night with a sour taste in your mouth or a burning feeling in your throat? This could mean you are suffering from acid reflux, which occurs when stomach acid escapes into your throat and mouth. Your teeth are made to last the rest of your life, but prolonged or repeated exposure to acid can wear away at the protective enamel, increasing the risk of chips and tooth decay. Making changes to your diet or taking a heartburn medication before bed lowers your risk of reflux while you sleep.

Mouth Breathing

We all breathe through the mouth from time to time—due to a cold or sinus congestion. In general, though, the optimum way to breathe is through the nose. This leads to higher oxygen levels in the body, as well as a host of other health benefits. By contrast, frequent mouth breathing leads to health consequences: affecting facial development, elevating your risk of tooth decay and gum disease, and predisposing you to sleep apnea. At Glen Park Dental, we can curtail this potentially harmful habit by correcting your breathing patterns through a regimen of myofunctional therapy.


Snoring and mouth breathing go hand in hand. Snoring also is considered the one major indicator of a sleep breathing disorder, such as obstructive sleep apnea. If you’re living with sleep apnea, you experience frequent disruptions or pauses in breathing while sleeping, greatly affecting the sleep cycle and your quality of sleep and, with it, your physical and mental health. While sleep apnea should be diagnosed by a qualified sleep specialist, your sleep apnea dentists at Glen Park Dental can collaborate with your sleep specialist and provide ways to help manage your sleep apnea in San Francisco.

Temporomandibular Joint Disorder

Also known as TMJ disorder or TMD, this disorder develops from any functional issue with your temporomandibular joint, which connects your jaw to your skull on either side of the head. TMJ disorder can lead to jaw pain, clicking or popping sounds as your jaws open and close, or a limited range of motion. TMJ disorder can be aggravated when you sleep on your side or stomach by placing excess pressure on the affected joint. Meanwhile, sleeping with an arm under your head can lead to posture problems and exacerbate any existing TMD symptoms. If you think you have TMJ disorder, you need to be seen by a neuromuscular dentist, which specializes in the alignment of the bite and jaw. Glen Park Dental proudly offers neuromuscular dentistry to our patients.

Comprehensive Dental Care in San Francisco

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, the team of oral health professionals at Glen Park Dental is here to help. We also offer general dentistry services, so if you are due for a cleaning or let your regular schedule of dental appointments lapse during the COVID-19 pandemic, now is a great time to get back on track with us. Schedule your consultation today by calling (415) 585-1500 if you’re located in the areas of Oakland, Marin, and San Francisco in California.