Winter is the time for hibernation, and there’s no better feeling than laying your head down at the end of a long day. But when you drift off to sleep, have you ever wondered what happens inside your mouth?
How sleep affects your teeth
We know that sleep is important for everything from helping us think clearly, to rebuilding vital tissue and cells. But unfortunately for your teeth, as you sleep your saliva production winds down, which gives bacteria a chance to proliferate.
That’s why you may wake with a dry mouth or bad breath, and why it’s so important to brush well last thing before you go to sleep. You should also keep a bottle of water by your bed to rehydrate throughout the night.
Sleep deprivation and poor dental health
It’s also important to get as many hours as you can – and try to ensure they’re unbroken. Typically, this is between seven and eight hours a night.
Researchers have even found a link between sleep deprivation and periodontal diseases. A study from Osaka University discovered that individuals who had fewer than seven hours’ slumber a night were at a heightened risk of periodontitis. The reason behind this connection is thought to be that lack of sleep contributes to a rise in inflammation, a symptom associated with gum disease.
Other sleep problems that impact your teeth
If you snore or suffer from sleep apnoea, there’s an even higher chance you’ll suffer dental problems. These include a dry mouth, increased chance of cavities and bad breath, as well as bruxism (teeth grinding) and TMJ disorder. This will likely cause wear to your tooth surfaces and result in tight jaw or facial muscles. You might even notice headaches, neck pain and cracked teeth.
All of this could be distributing your night’s sleep even further, meaning you have fewer hours of quality sleep and spend more time awake.
And in turn, if you have tooth decay, one of the key signs it needs to be treated urgently is being woken in the middle of the night with throbbing or aching.
If you have any of these signs, be sure to book a dental appointment as soon as possible. If you’d like more advice on coping with conditions such as sleep apnoea or teeth grinding, our dentists in Notting Hill can help provide relief.
January 3rd is Festival of Sleep Day, so why not finally start getting a healthy night’s sleep? Your teeth will thank you for it!