Did you know that the way you sleep has an impact on your oral health? One Brisbane dentist, Dr. James Malouf believes that learning more about the connection between the way you sleep and your teeth is important.
From the way sleep deprivation leads to gum disease through to habits such as teeth grinding, there are plenty of ways your sleep patterns affect your oral health. Understanding more about them can help you decide whether you need a dental checkup.
The relationship between a poor night’s sleep and gum disease
Sleep is your body’s opportunity to recover from the day’s events. In other words, it gives you a chance to rejuvenate. While many people recognise this for the rest of their body, few consider the connection between sleep patterns and gum disease.
If you’re suffering from sleep deprivation, you’re more likely to trigger the inflammatory processes that harm your gums. One study reveals how those who sleep less see an increase in the number of inflammatory factors in their body. While the study focuses on metabolic diseases, those same inflammatory processes affect other areas of the body too.
Gum disease, as a condition, is simply inflammation of the gums. Eventually, gum disease could progress to a condition called ‘periodontitis.’ Periodontitis involves bacterial growth throughout your mouth, which may eventually lead to losing your teeth. While you can always opt for dental veneers if you lose your teeth, it’s better to halt the inflammatory process rather than reach that stage.
Tackling poor sleep habits and attending your dental checkup
First, consider visiting your dentist for a checkup. They’ll identify whether you’re experiencing the early stages of gum disease and introduce treatments that prevent it from progressing onto periodontitis.
Next, you might want to consider engaging in good sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene is a vast topic, but some of the simpler practices include:
- Going to bed and rising at the same time to regulate your sleep patterns
- Avoiding caffeine in the afternoon
- Not using your bedroom for work or watching TV
- Getting a little exercise every day
One study carried out by the University of Osaka’s Graduate School of Medicine revealed that those who get less than eight hours of sleep per night are more likely to suffer from periodontitis than those who manage at least eight. As such, focus on improving your sleep patterns, as well as attending your regular dental checkup.
Teeth grinding and its impact
Also known as ‘bruxism,’ teeth grinding occurs during the day too. However, if you grind or clench your teeth while awake, you can make a conscious effort to stop it. When you’re asleep, though, you’ll continue with your teeth grinding habit, unaware that it’s happening.
There are multiple reasons for teeth grinding, many of which your Brisbane dentist can assess during your dental checkup. Some of those reasons include:
- Caffeine before bedtime
- A misaligned bite
When you unconsciously engage in teeth grinding, you can experience the following side effects:
- Damage to the structure of your teeth
- Rescinding gums
- Muscular pain in your jaw
- Cracked and broken teeth
Using dentistry services to resolve teeth grinding
Brisbane dentist, Dr. James Malouf believes before you turn to dentistry service for assistance, consider ways you can help yourself. For example, don’t drink caffeine after midday and consider finding ways to reduce your stress levels. Also, if you’re aware that you’re grinding your teeth during the day, stop.
Our Brisbane Dentistry practice assists with addressing teeth grinding:
- Attend your dental checkups regularly so your dentist can assess the situation
- Use an emergency dental service if you crack a tooth
- Ask your dentist about dental veneers
Breathing through your mouth while you sleep affects the acid levels surrounding your teeth
While breathing through your mouth as you sleep may seem harmless, it dries your mouth out. As a result, you have less saliva, which then leads to your mouth becoming more acidic. While your teeth can combat some of the effects of acidity, eventually it will wear down the enamel; making them weaker.
With weaker enamel, you’re more likely to encounter tooth decay. Tooth decay arises because your mouth depends on a certain amount of saliva to combat the bacteria that live in it. While brushing your teeth on a nightly basis will provide some protection, it won’t address the issue entirely.
At your regular dental checkup, your dentist will be able to determine whether you’re breathing through your mouth while you sleep. If you’re keen to stop this from happening, you may want to try:
- Ask your dentist about using a snore guard
- Try losing weight, if you are overweight
- Avoid sleeping on your back
- Don’t use alcohol or sedatives to fall asleep
- Consider visiting your family doctor to investigate the possibility of a sleep apnoea diagnosis
In addition to tooth decay, mouth breathing as you sleep increases your risk of gum disease. Alongside habits such as not getting enough sleep, this increases the likelihood of you encountering periodontitis.
Snacking late at night
If you do suffer from poor sleep, you may find that the temptation to reach for the fridge and grab a midnight snack arises. Doing this every so often won’t cause a huge amount of harm to your teeth. However, if it’s a regular habit, you give the bacteria that live in your mouth a source of energy to thrive from.
The bacteria living in your mouth are especially likely to thrive if you’re eating sugary foods or those with a high glycemic index. As a result, they’ll produce more acids, which then weaken your enamel and increase the likelihood that you’ll need dental veneers.
How your local dentistry services can help
If you’re worrying about how your sleep affects your dental health, you can use your local dentistry services to tackle the problem. You may find that problems such as a poor night’s sleep arise due to sleep apnoea; in which case, you could benefit from a mouthguard that realigns your jaw while sleeping. Similarly, attending your dental checkups allows your Brisbane dentist to highlight problems at an earlier stage and tackle them before they transform into big issues.
Similarly, call an emergency dentist if your tooth suddenly cracks or causes severe pain. Through a combination of self-help techniques and your dentist’s input, you can tackle the sleep problems that worsen your oral health.