You might have already heard the many benefits of a good night’s sleep for your physical and mental health. However, it may surprise you to learn that your quality of sleep affects your oral health too. If you have been kept awake by snoring (yours or someone else’s) or have woken up with jaw pain, it may be a sign of a few sleeping problems that need addressing. We’ll be discussing a few of those issues as well as how sleep and oral health are connected.
The Connection Between Oral Health and Sleep
When you sleep well at night, there are a variety of physical benefits that affect your oral health too. It will boost your immune function which enables your body to better fight infections like gum disease. Quality sleep improves your blood flow, which helps your body transport nutrients to your mouth that it needs for good oral health. It also helps your gums ward off infection and strengthen your tooth enamel.
Sleep Problems That Affect Your Dental Health
There are a variety of problems that can arise while you sleep that have an impact on the health of your teeth, gums, and mouth. It’s important to address these issues as soon as you become aware of them to avoid further damage to your physical and oral health.
- Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is when your airway is blocked due to the soft tissues in your throat or tongue relaxing. This will cause you to wake up with a gasp for breath, and then you’ll go back to sleep. If it happens often enough, it can affect the quality of your sleep. It only can affect your physical health and increase your risk for high blood pressure or stroke.
It can also lead to dry mouth symptoms as well. The saliva in our mouth cleans away food particles and bacteria. When you don’t have the same amount of saliva, due to a dry mouth, that can increase your risk for gum disease, cavities, and more.
If you have been told you snore, you wake up not feeling rested, or you deal with dry mouth, visit our office right away. We can fit you with a custom-fit mouthguard that will gently push your jaw forward so you don’t have interrupted sleep.
- Teeth Grinding
Many people grind their teeth while they sleep. If you wake up with jaw pain, your teeth feel sensitive, you have headaches, or have muscle pain around your neck or shoulders, you may have a TMJ disorder (TMD). A TMD is when your temporomandibular joints become inflamed, and can result in teeth grinding or clenching. During an exam, we can identify signs of this disorder and create a custom-fit mouthguard that will act as a barrier between your teeth and ease the pain. We may also need to address any damage to your teeth caused by this habit with our restorative care options.