As a leading orthodontist, Strickland Orthodontics offers not only braces and Invisalign but also valuable oral health advice. Today’s blog focuses on the surprising connection between sleep and oral health. Read on to find out how a good night’s sleep is beneficial for your teeth!
How Resting More Gives You Better Oral Health
When you’re asleep, your body is doing important work. Restful sleep allows you to regenerate, and that includes your oral health. As you sleep, your body is fighting infections both in your mouth and throughout your body.
It’s also important to understand what a big impact sleep has on your whole-body health. Without a proper night of sleep, you’re working at less-than-full capacity. Your immune system is weaker, your brain functions more slowly, and you’re simply not at your best.
A Connection Between Periodontal Disease and Sleep
In a recent study, dentists tracked a group of subjects over a four year period to find out how gum disease affected their lifestyle. The lifestyle factors tracked smoking habits (or lack thereof), sleep hours each night, work hours each day, the average stress level, whether the participants ate breakfast daily, and the amount of exercise they got. All of these factors are thought to potentially contribute, at least in some way, to periodontal disease. However, the study set out to prove the real culprits behind periodontal disease and how different lifestyles affect periodontal disease.
The study showed that out of all the factors tracked, smoking had the most influence on periodontal disease – and the amount of sleep was the number two influence. That means that sleep had more of an impact than stress, exercise, and work hours.
The study participants who had the least amount of periodontal disease were those who had at least 7-8 hours of sleep on a regular basis. Of course, periodontal disease impacts more than just your gums. This alone is more of a reason to pay attention to the sleep and oral health connections that appear to be true. When you suffer from periodontal disease, you’re at risk for gum recession. This can lead to tooth loss and even eventually bone loss if you don’t seek treatment soon enough.
Sleep Apnea: More Proof Of Sleep and Oral Health Connections
Sleep apnea is a condition where your breathing repeatedly starts and stops throughout your sleep. Obstructive Sleep Apnea is the most common form and happens when your throat muscles relax so much that they block off your airway while you’re asleep. This leaves you with too little oxygen, and that’s why sleep apnea sufferers often gasp, snore, or startle themselves awake briefly. If you suffer from sleep apnea, you have multiple breathing interruptions during the night – you might quit breathing as much as a few hundred times over an eight-hour period.
Sleep apnea has some obvious effects, such as daytime drowsiness and concentration issues during the day. However, there are even worse problems that you might not know about. Sleep apnea sufferers are more likely to suffer from serious and potentially life-threatening conditions like stroke, hypertension, and heart disease.
Oral health problems triggered by sleep apnea can include dry mouth when you wake up, teeth grinding during the night (a reaction to the lack of air), and periodontal disease (a result of too little saliva in your mouth). These problems certainly demonstrate that restful sleep is very important for your overall oral health.
How You Can Sleep Better to Protect Your Oral Health
Fortunately, if you suffer from sleep apnea you do have options. Depending on the severity of your sleep apnea, we can likely help improve your breathing and sleep with an oral sleep apnea device. Even if you don’t have sleep apnea, erratic sleep habits can definitely damage your oral health — so you might need to make a few changes. Simply going to bed an hour earlier and having a better evening routine could make a big difference in your oral health. Contact us at Strickland Orthodontics to find ways to protect your oral health and wellness!