Woman sleeping while holding onto a pillow.

When examining the connection between oral health and sleep, experts agree that the quality of sleep itself is the most important factor. The benefits of regularly getting high-quality sleep include strengthening the immune system and reducing inflammation.

There are several other factors relating to sleep that affect our oral health. Below, we will examine the effect of sleep on oral health and dental issues and suggestions for improving your sleep and maintaining good oral health.

How are Sleep and Oral Health Connected?

There is a significant connection between sleep quality and health and oral health. Some of the connections include:

Blood Flow: Getting adequate sleep improves blood flow, allowing the body to efficiently transport nutrients that make the mouth healthier.

Periodontal Disease: Low sleep quality has been linked to a higher risk of developing periodontal disease, which is inflammation and sometimes infection of the gums.

Bruxism (Teeth Grinding): There is a strong connection between sleep apnea and teeth grinding, which causes excessive wear to the enamel, fractures, and significant damage to the teeth.

Dry Mouth: Sleep apnea causes individuals to breathe through their mouth while sleeping. This can cause excessive dry mouth, reduced saliva production, and an increased risk of gum disease and tooth decay.

Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD): Subpar sleep quality is shown to contribute to temporomandibular joint disorder, which can often cause headaches, jaw pain, and jaw mobility issues.

Tooth Decay: Sleep apnea causing dry mouth often leads to an increased risk of tooth decay. Saliva plays a vital role in the protection of the teeth by providing essential minerals that rebuild tooth enamel and neutralize damaging acids in the mouth. When there is a reduction in saliva production, the protective effects are decreased, causing the teeth to be more susceptible to decay.

Gum Disease: Mouth breathing at night can contribute to the development and progression of gum disease. An overly dry mouth creates an environment in which harmful bacteria thrive, thus leading to inflamed and infected gums.

It’s important to note that seeking treatment for a possible sleep disorder and maintaining strong oral hygiene practices can help to mitigate and manage these oral health issues. Seeking help from medical professionals for appropriate diagnosis and treatment is important for both sleep and oral health.

How can you Improve both Sleep and Oral Health?

While everyone knows that they should brush their teeth twice daily, taking care of our oral health and improving our sleep quality requires a bit more. In addition to brushing twice per day for at least two minutes at a time, flossing daily and seeing your dentist regularly for routine checkups and cleanings are highly important.

Here are our top tips for improving your sleep and oral health:

  • Always Brush and Floss Before Bed
  • Avoid Eating Two Hours Before Bed
  • Maintain a Consistent Sleep Schedule
  • Avoid Alcohol and Caffeine Before Bed
  • Create a Comfortable Sleep Environment
  • Consider a Humidifier to Increase Moisture Levels in your Home
  • Practice Nasal Breathing Exercises During the Day
  • Limit Blue Light Exposure Before Bed

As mentioned above, nothing can replace a strong oral healthcare routine. Healthy routines over time become healthy habits. By establishing good sleep hygiene and oral hygiene practices, you are supporting your body’s need for rest and sleep while also supporting the needs of your mouth, teeth, and gums. These practices will go a long way toward preventing tooth decay and gum disease and maintaining a healthy mouth for years to come. If you want to learn more about how we can support your oral health, contact our amazing staff at our Guelph dentists office today!