Alpha Dental

How Does Sleep Affect Your Oral Health?

How does sleep affect your oral health? From snoring to grinding

We can all agree that a good night’s sleep makes a world of a difference in how we function the following day. 

Apart from waking up feeling like a million bucks, how often does this happen? A goods night rest gives our body a chance to repair, replenish and restore all of our vital functions including circulation, respiration and immune system. 

It reduces stress and inflammation, keeps your heart healthy, improves your memory and best of all, keeps you awake and alert during those boring work meetings or lectures.

It also plays a major role in our oral health by fighting off infections and fortifying your teeth. 

But what happens when you don’t get enough sleep? Or perhaps you suffer from sleep apnea?

There are adverse effects that can occur during your sleep, which can have a negative impact on your oral health.

From the good, the bad, and the ugly, here’s what you need to know about your sleep and oral health.


A good night’s sleep strengthens your enamel

Sleeping helps repair your cardiovascular system and blood vessels from any damage sustained throughout the day allowing for essential nutrients, such as calcium and phosphate, to be transported successfully to bone tissue of your teeth. 

This helps to repair, replenish and strengthen your tooth’s enamel, which is subjected to plaque and cavities over time.


A good night’s sleep fights infections

Our immune system is what protects us from getting illnesses by fending off harmful bacteria and infections. Getting a good night’s sleep helps recharge the immune system by increasing production of cytokines, a powerful protein our bodies need to battle off infections and inflammation. The same process applies to the bacteria in your mouth.

Because our mouths are filled with bacteria, the immune system needs to know how to fight off any infections that could take hold, which includes gum disease, tooth infections and tooth decay. Sleep is crucial in keeping your immune system strong and maintaining good oral health.

The effects of sleep apnea on oral health

Unfortunately, not everyone is graced with a good night’s sleep every night, especially those who suffer from sleep apnea. People who snore or sleep with their mouths open are more prone to opportunistic bacteria due to the lack of saliva flow. 

A dry mouth allows harmful bacteria to have free reign to digest any sugars from left over food debris. This then leads to plaque and cavities forming on your teeth.

Saliva is needed to coat and moisten the oral tissues of your tooth, as it is also necessary to cleanse the oral cavity by washing your tongue, gums and cheeks of any dead cells. Saliva also helps protect your teeth and gums by acting as a buffer and neutralising harmful bacteria and other microorganisms that can lead to tooth decay and gum disease .

It is important that if you suffer from sleep apnea, you consult your dentist as soon as possible for a solution on how to maintain good oral health and prevent tooth decay.

Bruxism, grinding your teeth in your sleep

If you find yourself experiencing jaw pain or headaches every morning you wake up, the chances are you suffer from bruxism. Clenching or grinding your teeth in your sleep is quite normal, a lot of people do it, but when it becomes a regular occurrence it can be damaging to your teeth.

Chronic teeth grinding can result in a cracked tooth enamel, excessive wear, tension headaches, jaw pain, broken teeth, tooth sensitivity, and toothaches.

There are a number of causes for bruxism, with stress being the leading cause, but external factors such as smoking, caffeine, alcohol, and some drugs can also have an effect.

Thankfully, there are a number of treatments that can help reduce tooth wear, including a mouth splint, which is a special mouthguard to wear while you sleep that acts as a cushion to absorb excessive force when you grind. Other forms of non-oral treatments can include stress management therapy, relaxation techniques, and regular exercise. 

Sleep deprivation has serious consequences on both your oral and general wellbeing, that’s why it is important to take the correct steps in getting appropriate medical treatment. If you find yourself grinding your teeth at night or suffer from sleep apnea, book an appointment with your dentist and find out what’s best for you. 

At Alpha Dental we know that oral health can be a teething nuisance. That’s why we have made it our mission to provide a long-term and sustainable solution for your oral health. We take the time to listen to your individual needs before we create a plan, ensuring all your requirements and concerns are addressed. 

The longer you leave it, the more expensive and complicated your treatments will become.

Book an appointment now.