Link Between Sleeping and Oral Health

Posted by Kobi Voshell Nov 10, 2020

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How Your Sleep Schedule Can Impact Your Dental Care

When you think of the best ways to maintain your oral health, you probably think of brushing your teeth, flossing, and visiting the dentist regularly for check-ups. Did you know that getting enough sleep is another great way to take care of your oral health? In fact, studies show that individuals who report sleep deficiency also have higher chances of periodontitis, or gum disease.

Periodontitis is characterized by receding gums and small pockets between the gums and teeth that are a breeding ground for infection. The reason sleep deprivation can cause this issue has to do with the body’s response system. Losing sleep for even a single night can trigger the cellular pathway that produces tissue-damaging inflammation. It is important to pay attention to your body’s signals when trying to discover whether you are suffering from chronic inflammation.

Signs of chronic inflammation include:

  • Balance issues

Chronic inflammation causes your body to essentially attack itself. This makes it more difficult for nerve signals to communicate, which can cause feelings of dizziness when in motion.

  • Insulin resistance

Insulin is the hormone produced by the pancreas that helps regulate the amount of glucose in the blood. Inflammation can prevent insulin from working properly, which can lead to high blood sugar, damaged nerves and vessels, and diabetes. Telltale signs of insulin resistance include tingling feet, thirstiness, or tiredness. Of course, a multitude of factors can contribute to these symptoms, so experiencing them does not necessarily mean that you have developed insulin resistance. Consult with your primary health provider if you are concerned about your body’s insulin levels.

  • Muscle weakness

In the same way that inflammation attacks your body and causes balance issues, it can also cause muscle weakness. This is because inflammation of the muscles, or myositis, breaks down muscle fibers, making you weaker.

  • Diarrhea

When your immune system overreacts, it inflames your colon and small intestine, which can cause diarrhea. For this reason, persistent diarrhea can be another sign of chronic inflammation.

  • Lower back pain

Another area that chronic inflammation tends to attack is the lower back, along with the hips, neck, knees, and chest. Pain tends to be especially pronounced in the morning. It is best to consult with your physician if you notice these symptoms and they become bothersome.

  • Chronic fatigue

This is one of the major signs of long-term inflammation. This occurs because the body undergoes stress as it tries to cope with the release of proteins called inflammatory cytokines in the blood.

  • Oral health issues

At Eastman Dental Care, we focus on the whole-body health of our patients, so we open our discussions to include all of these areas because we believe that they strongly intersect with oral health. Among all of the issues that inflammation causes, as far as treatment plans, we are best equipped to address the oral health concerns. However, discussing all of your symptoms with us will be helpful for everyone involved. It is important to view your oral health as one contributing part of your body’s greater functioning system. By being mindful of your body’s symptoms, you can help our team identify the underlying causes of your oral health issues and provide effective treatment.

Because lack of sleep contributes to inflammation, it can severely affect the periodontium, which keeps your teeth firmly placed in your mouth. This is because plaque biofilm releases bacteria to colonize the tooth surface around the gum areas. These bacteria cause a host response that leads to gingivitis. Long-term inflammation can cause fibroblasts and the production of proinflammatory cytokines in the tissues, creating an ongoing cycle of infection if left untreated, which eventually causes a more serious gum condition, periodontitis.

Signs of gingivitis, one of the earlier stages of gum disease, include:

  • Gum inflammation
  • Discolored, dark, or red gums
  • Gums that bleed easily when you brush or floss your teeth
  • Teeth appearing longer due to recession
  • Tender gums
  • A pocket between the tooth and the gum
  • Bad breath
  • Pus between the tooth and gum
  • Tooth pain or sensitivity

Signs of periodontitis, a more advanced stage of gum disease, include:

  • Persistence of the symptoms listed above
  • Loose teeth
  • Pain when chewing
  • Worsening teeth alignment
  • Sores on the inside of the mouth

These symptoms may be unpleasant, but they are certainly avoidable. With the help of our experienced team at Eastman Dental Care and your responsible practices at home, we can work together to prevent them from forming. One positive step you can take to help fight excessive inflammation is to make sure you are getting enough sleep. A common misconception is that the number of hours you sleep is equivalent to how much your body rested. This is not the case. Rather, quality of sleep is far more important than quantity.

How to Get Quality Sleep and Fight Periodontitis

In order to obtain quality sleep, it is essential to get in touch with your body’s circadian rhythm. We understand that different people have different schedules, but trying to sleep at similar hours each day will do wonders for your body. Not only will you feel more refreshed and energized, you can avoid painful dental issues down the line.

Another way to obtain quality sleep is to control your exposure to light. When your body absorbs light, your brain resists the need to produce melatonin. This means that using your phone before bedtime will make it harder for you to sleep. On the contrary, to optimize your energy levels during the day, spend as much time in the light as possible. Some ways to do this include taking a walk in the morning sunlight and letting natural light into your workspace.

Eating and drinking well can also improve your sleep and your smile. Being mindful about what you eat and drink will positively impact your oral health in both direct and indirect ways. For the most direct ways, avoiding excessive sugar, caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol will help your enamel stay intact and strong. In addition, it will help you sleep more restfully, which can give you a healthier smile over time. If you have a hectic schedule, it might be hard to wind down even if you avoid these substances in excess. For this reason, we recommend trying relaxation techniques before bed. It might take some experimenting to discover what is best for you, but once you find that sweet spot, it can make a world of a difference. Some might benefit from taking a warm bath, while others are better off listening to relaxing noises or reading. Find what works for you and stick to it. Your body and your smile will thank you for it.

Lastly, optimizing your sleeping environment can encourage you to tackle sleeping issues you may not have realized you have. Too often, we grow accustomed to the environments we are in and don’t realize how much better they could actually be. When it comes to your sleeping environment, look around to see if there are some ways you could make the area more comfortable for yourself. Do you have enough pillows? Would you be better off sleeping next to a fan? Is your bed arranged in a way that is ideal for preventing back issues? Addressing all of these questions can help you sleep more restfully and help your oral health thrive.

Treatment for Gum Issues from Sleep Deprivation

Even those who take excellent care of their gum health and make an effort to sleep well can be prone to gum disease. Luckily, the experts at Eastman Dental Care provide gum disease treatment to help you heal from any issues that may arise. We offer minimally invasive treatments that yield long-lasting results. By utilizing world-class technology and personalized solutions, we will get to the root of what your issues are, whether they are due to sleep deprivation or another cause, and create a treatment plan accordingly. On top of that, we are staffed with a team that truly cares, who will walk you through preventative remedies like the ones listed above to help keep these issues at bay in the future.

To schedule an appointment with our team, call us at (319) 670-2030 or contact us online!

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