Alaska Sleep Education Center

How a Lack of Sleep Can Affect Your Dental Health

Posted by Jennifer Hines

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on Nov 18, 2020 9:29:22 AM

Everyone is interested in improving their health, but few people understand the nuances that come with boosting your well-being. Instead of focusing on large sweeping changes to your life that are difficult to maintain, it’s vital that you start focusing on small practical changes that are easier to adopt and integrate into your lifestyle.

One of the most important things to consider is the amount of sleep you get. Without enough sleep, you’re going to suffer a whole range of different negative effects. To demonstrate the subtleties, we’re going to explain the link between a lack of sleep and your dental health. We’ll be showing you how two seemingly unrelated things regarding your health can be connected.


Woman sleeping comfortable in her warm bed.



A lack of sleep is linked to periodontitis

First, let’s describe what periodontitis is to help you get a better understanding of one of the most common dental health concerns. Periodontitis is an infection of the gums that is caused by bacteria that is allowed to accumulate on your teeth and/or gums. As the condition progresses, it damages the bones, teeth and gums in your mouth.

Research has shown that periodontitis is actually linked with the amount of sleep that you get. In one study, lifestyle factors such as sleep, diet, exercise and stress levels were investigated as periodontitis factors in 200 workers. It was discovered that the workers that got enough sleep (between seven to eight hours) were at lower risk of periodontitis. While more research does need to be carried out to create a solid link, it’s clear that there is some relationship between a good night’s sleep and a reduced risk of periodontitis.

We believe that much of this is due to the effort and motivation that it takes to maintain a healthy sleeping routine. A lack of sleep can cause you to ruin your circadian rhythm which ultimately results in a lifestyle that is constantly in flux. This can cause you to take less care of your teeth and other lifestyle factors may start to affect your dental health. For instance, stress can cause you to eat more sugary foods that are bad for your teeth and it can cause you to lose track of when you’ve brushed your teeth.


The body produces inflammatory hormones when you lack sleep

However, a lack of sleep causes more than just a disruption to our natural rhythm. One of the side effects of a lack of sleep is your body’s response to keeping inflammation in check. If you don’t sleep enough, it can cause your immune system to turn against healthy tissue and organs. Losing sleep, even if only for a single night, can trigger the key cellular pathway that produces inflammation that can damage tissues.

In other words, there’s a biological response that takes place if you lack sleep. This response then causes more tissue-damaging inflammation to be produced which can end up harming your teeth and gums. While the inflammation isn’t specifically targeted at your dental health, it will affect your entire body and ultimately reach areas such as your gums.


Make sure you’re taking good care of your teeth

However, there may be times where you can’t avoid a lack of sleep. Perhaps your business is in crunch time and you’re pushing yourself a bit for a product launch, or maybe you’re a new parent and your child is keeping you up at night. Whatever the case is, It’s important that you focus on taking better care of your teeth even if you’re lacking sleep.

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day to ensure that your mouth is clean of bacteria that could cause harm.
  • Floss on a regular basis to clean areas of your teeth that brushing can’t reach. You may want to look at a video on how to floss so you can build up the muscle memory to do it quickly even if you’re tired.
  • Visit your dentist regularly so you know what’s going on with your teeth. Your dentist can also give your teeth a deep clean with specialized tools.
  • Eat a balanced diet to ensure that you’re not damaging your teeth with foods that are too acidic or sugary.
  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Drinking water can greatly improve your dental health and even help deal with bad breath.
  • Quit bad habits like smoking. Smoking makes you three to six times more likely to develop gum disease or periodontal disease.

These are simple tips to help you manage your teeth. If your lack of sleep is unavoidable then you’ll want to make sure you follow these tips closely.


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How can you get a good night’s sleep?

Lastly, let’s touch on a few tips to help you ensure you get a good night’s sleep.

  • Sleep is a priority, not an afterthought. Make sure sleep becomes a priority for you. You shouldn’t be focusing on sleep as an end to the day, but rather as an important part of the day that you’ll want to make time for. It should be just as important as other things in your schedule such as work and break times. Ideally, you should be sleeping for around 7 to 8 hours a day if you want to get a quality amount of rest.
  • Dental issues like grinding can affect your quality of sleep. If you find that your teeth are grinding due to other dental-related issues then it may be necessary to get affordable dentures that you can sleep in. However, it can be dangerous to sleep in dentures if you don't take good care of them. You should speak to a dentist if you’re concerned about issues like teeth grinding that could be an issue if you’ve recently started wearing dentures or if there’s a problem with your bite.
  • Make your bedroom a tranquil and quiet place to sleep. Make sure your bedroom is a quiet and tranquil place to sleep in. You don’t want to turn it into an office, you don’t want too many electronics in there and you don’t want to use your bedroom for anything but sleeping and relaxing. This will help ensure that you get a good night’s sleep because you’ll automatically associate your room with resting.
  • Start adopting a nighttime ritual. A lot of people don’t realize that a nighttime ritual can help them get into the mood for sleeping. People often just get into bed and try to sleep, but this can be difficult if you have a lot of thoughts racing in your mind. We suggest taking a few steps to develop a nighttime ritual so that you can sleep more easily and soundly. For instance, try to avoid any screen time 2-3 hours before you sleep. Instead, focus on taking care of yourself such as taking a bath, putting on some comfortable clothes, listening to some relaxing music, and stretching your muscles if they’re sore.
  • Stick to the same schedule every night. It’s important to make sure you stick to the same schedule every day to get your body used to a healthy rhythm. That means avoiding sleeping in on the weekends or on your day off. Instead, you could opt for a daytime nap to help pay off sleep debt without disrupting your sleep cycle.

A lack of sleep can affect many parts of your body, but people seldom realize that it can also affect their dental health in more ways than one. That’s why it’s important to develop a healthy sleeping pattern to ensure that your well-being is protected.

Alaska Sleep Clinic is the most comprehensive sleep lab in Alaska, with four locations in Anchorage, Soldotna, Fairbanks and Wasilla.  We work closely with local dentists and orthodontists on oral sleep appliances for our patients that do not improve with CPAP.

Call us today @ 907-357-6700  for a free sleep consultation with a board-certified sleep specialist.

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Topics: dental, sleep apnea dangers

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