Sleep: Understanding the Many Ways It Affects Your Oral Health
A good night’s sleep does wonders for a person. Sleep is a crucial part of a healthy lifestyle and may be the most important factor when it comes to maintaining your general well-being. A good night’s sleep has been linked to reduced stress, a faster metabolism, increased immune functionality and so much more. On the flip side, however, poor sleep can bring its own array of negative effects on the body and mind.
When it comes to oral health, sleep remains an important part of one’s oral hygiene. Sleep is also a powerful tool in maintaining a healthy, happy smile.
The Oral Health Benefits of Good Sleep
1. Good Sleep Improves The Immune System and Fights Infections
Our mouths are filled with bacteria, most of which is good and useful in breaking down food. However, the mouth is also a major gateway for bad bacteria to enter the body. It is crucial that our immune system can react to disease-inducing bacteria as quickly as possible, to prevent any illness.
This is where our mouths become battlefields for bacteria. Good sleep increases the production of proteins called cytokines, which primarily act as signals of infection and antibodies that actually fight off the infection. With a restful night of sleep, proteins and antibodies are fortified in a way that can crush bad bacteria and ward off infections. This can ultimately help to prevent tooth decay, gum disease and other infections.
2. Quality Sleep Prevents Inflammation
A good night’s sleep allows your muscles, tissues and cells to rest and recharge from a long day of use. This is especially important for your gums, which are active all day long, especially when eating and drinking. In addition to strengthening your immune system, quality sleep reduces inflammation in the gums which can prevent gingivitis, a mild form of gum disease.
3. Good Sleep Strengthens Enamel
Restful and quality sleep also helps repair your cardiovascular system which is in charge of distributing nutrient rich blood to your body’s cells. By maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system, your teeth will be consistently replenished with the nutrients they need to remain strong like calcium and phosphate.
Calcium and phosphate are two main contributors to tooth enamel. Enamel is the protective outer layer of your teeth that keeps your teeth strong and resistant to decay and damage. Strong enamel is important for preventing serious dental problems as a result of plaque build up and cavities.
How Poor Sleep Can Affect Your Oral Health
1. Bruxism: Grinding Your Teeth
Bruxism is a condition that causes a clenching or forceful grinding of the teeth, which can result in serious jaw pain and tooth damage. Oftentimes episodes of bruxism occur at night. It is common for both children and adults to grind their teeth at night. For most adults, this is due to stress and interrupted sleep.
To prevent enamel erosion and tooth damage caused by sleep bruxism, one can do a number of things. Try to improve your sleep quality by decompressing before going to bed, to relieve any stress that may trigger teeth grinding. Another great treatment for bruxism is to wear a mouth guard that forms to your teeth and prevents any harmful impact.
2. Sleep Apnea and Oral Infections
Interruptions during sleep – including sleep apnea – can cause one to breathe through his/her mouth more than normal. The human respiratory system is constructed to encourage a majority of our breathing to take place through our nose.
When your sleep is interrupted and you are breathing primarily through your mouth at night, this can lead to xerostomia, or dry mouth. Dry mouth is a condition where one experiences a lack of saliva production. As a result, the mouth becomes very dry and harmful bacteria are free to infect the mouth.
Your saliva is your mouth’s natural disinfectant. It moisens your mouth and protects it by fighting bad bacteria. Dry mouth is the cause behind bad morning breath. Morning breath is typically caused by the odor of bad bacteria feeding on sugars and other food particles within the mouth.
There are strong correlations between sleep apnea and increased risk of infection, because of the bacteria present when dry mouth occurs.
What Can You Do?
Sleep quality makes a difference when it comes to your oral health. If you are grinding your teeth at night or waking up with bad morning breath, schedule an appointment with Summer Dental, Las Vegas. Our dental specialists can help improve your oral health and find the root cause of your discomfort. Same day appointments are available today by calling (702) 852-2829.