The Connection Between Sleep and Oral Health

December 17, 2021

You probably already know that getting plenty of sleep is a critical part of maintaining your overall health, but did you know that your sleep habits and your oral health have a direct connection? A lack of sleep can impact the health of your teeth and gums, and some oral health conditions can prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep. Here is some more information about the link between sleep and oral health, straight from the experienced dentists and hygienists at American Dental in the Chicago area.

How Sleep Affects Your Oral Health

When you go to bed, it gives your body a chance to repair any damage it has sustained over the course of your day. Getting plenty of sleep improves your blood flow, allowing your body to more efficiently transport nutrients that make your mouth healthier. Better blood flow will not only give your gum tissue all the resources it needs to repair itself and fight harmful bacteria, it also brings in calcium and Vitamin D your body can use to strengthen tooth enamel. If you are suffering from oral health conditions like gingivitis or infections, getting enough sleep will put your body in the best possible position to fight infections and keep your gum tissue healthy.

Oral Health Conditions That Affect Sleep Patterns

How much sleep you get can have an impact on your teeth and gums, and certain oral health conditions can prevent you from getting quality sleep. Here are some examples:

  • Bruxism – Also known as teeth grinding, bruxism usually affects people when they are sleeping. If you frequently wake up with a sore jaw, or your dentist notices excessive wear or cracks in your teeth, bruxism could be the cause. In many cases, a patient’s teeth grinding may be so loud that it wakes them up at night! People living with bruxism may not even realize what is causing them to wake up so frequently.

Bruxism is believed to be caused or aggravated by stress, but other factors including smoking, caffeine, alcohol, and stimulant drugs may also contribute to this condition. If you have bruxism, talk to your dentist about wearing a mouth guard at night to protect your teeth from being damaged.

  • Sleep Apnea – While it is not necessarily considered an oral health condition, sleep apnea can have a profound effect on the health of your teeth and gums. When you snore excessively or sleep with an open mouth, it can reduce saliva production, causing dry mouth. Because your saliva washes away bacteria from the interior surfaces of your mouth, a lack of saliva will give them the opportunity to grow out of control. This can lead to cavities, tooth decay, gum disease, and more. If you are living with sleep apnea, it’s important to speak with a dentist about ways you can keep your mouth healthy at night.

In addition to their direct effects on your oral health, both of these conditions can also make it difficult to sleep, impairing blood flow and making it harder for your body to heal.

Finding a Dentist in the Chicago Area

If you suffer from any of the conditions listed above, or you are concerned about the quality of your sleep, your doctor and your dentist can work together to develop a treatment plan. If you need a general dentist in River West, Chicago, or anywhere else nearby, American Dental has multiple locations for your convenience. Call (773) 897-3218 or click the “Make an Appointment” button at the top of this page and find the clinic that works best for you.

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