It’s no secret that sleep is essential, and we all know that we need rest to function well, both mentally and physically. But many people don’t know that sleep quality can also affect oral health. You may be surprised to hear it, but poor sleep can lead to many dental problems, including cavities, gum disease, and tooth loss.
During your sleep hours, your body can rest and repair itself. You may not realize it, but your body is hard at work during the wee hours of the night. For example, sleep is when your body produces its growth hormone, vital for tissue repair. Also, sleep is crucial for your gums and teeth.
Other vital functions during sleep are the production of saliva and the swallowing reflex. Saliva helps remove food and bacteria from your teeth, and the swallowing reflex helps to keep the mouth clean by swirling saliva around.
If you’re not getting enough sleep, your body won’t be able to perform these critical functions as effectively, leading to various physical and even emotional health problems.
Studies show that a lack of sleep can lead to many problems, including obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.
A lack of sleep disrupts the body’s hormones. When you don’t get enough rest, your body produces cortisol, increasing your craving for unhealthy foods. It can also lead to high blood pressure and an increased risk of a heart attack. Lack of sleep also impacts insulin production, which can lead to diabetes. In fact, people who are sleep deprived are up to twice as likely to develop diabetes. The reason is that sleep is crucial for regulating blood sugar levels, and when someone is not getting enough rest, their blood sugar is more likely to spike.
Sleep deprivation can cause a chemical imbalance in the brain, affecting mood. If you’re not sleeping enough, your body produces less of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which is responsible for regulating mood. A lack of serotonin can create feelings of sadness and irritability. If we’re depressed or anxious, it leads us to make poor choices and neglect other parts of our life, such as making bad food choices that ultimately affect our oral health.
Your immune system is dependant on the amount of rest and recovery your body receives. At night, your body repairs itself from any damage, including damage from infection, inflammation, and even stress. Sleep deprivation causes a decrease in white blood cells, which are essential for fighting off infection.
Another consequence of lack of rest is a reduction in antibody production. If you’re dealing with an illness or infection, your body will have a harder time recovering.
Several dental problems can arise from sleep deprivation. These include:
If you’re sleep deprived, it could be due to sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that causes people to stop breathing for short periods of time during sleep, disrupting the sleep cycle. If you think you may have sleep apnea, speak with a health professional like a medical doctor or sleep apnea dentist.
Treating sleep apnea can help improve sleep quality and overall health. Several treatments for sleep apnea are available, including dental appliances, lifestyle changes, and surgery.
We cannot overestimate the role sleep plays in our overall health and well-being. When you’re well-rested, you’ll feel better and be more likely to take care of yourself, including your teeth and gums. If you constantly feel groggy and tired throughout the day, speak with your doctor or your Alhambra dentist.
Evergreen Dental Care
937 E Main St
Alhambra, CA 91801