Sleep and Oral Health: What You Didn’t Know

Woman stretching after restful sleep

You know that getting a good night’s sleep is vital for feeling fresh and focused the next day. It might be especially surprising to learn that the quality of sleep you get can impact the health of your teeth and gums, too. 

Think of sleep as a reset for every part of your body. During sleep, your body performs important repair and restoration work throughout each of your body’s systems. A good night’s sleep allows your body to fight infections and keep all of your tissues healthy, including those inside your mouth. 

Why Getting a Good Night’s Sleep Matters

The amount and quality of sleep you get is essential to your health. When you get enough sleep, you’ll enjoy:

  • Better focus
  • Better mood
  • Better cardiovascular health
  • Better breathing
  • Clearer thinking
  • Faster reflexes
  • Healthier blood pressure
  • Healthier appetite
  • Improved problem-solving
  • Improved productivity
  • Lower risk of depression
  • Stronger immune responses

Getting enough sleep not only helps you feel better, but it can actually boost your health and keep you healthier in the long run. A good night’s sleep can help you fight off illness and infection more effectively. So how does this affect your oral health?

Dental Health and Sleep: What’s the Connection? 

Clearly, sleep is a vital part of staying healthy, but what does sleep have to do with your oral health? Your dental health and sleep habits are closely connected in multiple ways. First, because your cardiovascular and circulatory system are able to repair and recover while you sleep, your mouth will receive better blood flow and nutrient delivery during a proper night’s sleep. This is important for the enamel on your teeth, which requires calcium and phosphate to stay strong and intact. Improved blood flow is also critical for the health of both your teeth and your gums, as it helps ensure your tissues get the oxygen they need to stay healthy.

Additionally, your immune system needs adequate sleep to stay strong enough to fend off bacteria, viruses, and infections. When you get the sleep your body needs, your body produces proteins called cytokines to fight bacteria, inflammation, and infection. This means that your mouth is better able to defend itself against the bacteria that causes tooth decay and gum disease, helping to fight off infection. 

The amount of sleep you get is an essential part of keeping your whole body healthy, including your mouth. However, it’s helpful to know that if you experience sleep problems, you may also find that it impacts your oral health.

Dental Health and Sleep Problems

Most of us would love to get a solid eight hours of sleep each and every night, but that’s not always as easy as it sounds. A range of things can affect the amount and quality of sleep you get, from stress and anxiety to sleep conditions like sleep apnea. If you’re having trouble sleeping well at night, you may suffer a number of consequences, including lack of focus, moodiness, and getting sick more often. Problems with your dental health may be a side effect of poor sleep as well.  

Sleep apnea, snoring, and other sleep-related breathing disorders can have a significant impact on your oral health over time. Because these disorders cause you to sleep with your mouth open, the bacteria in your mouth is able to flourish due to the lack of regular saliva flow. In addition, sleep disorders like apnea may result in a lack of adequate air exchange, which means your body doesn’t get the oxygen it needs. This is stressful and dangerous for the health of your entire body and means your teeth and gums might not get the oxygen they need to stay healthy. 

Stress and anxiety can also cause dental health and sleep problems. When you feel anxious or stressed, you may have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, which can be an issue for your dental health in and of itself. In addition, stress causes many people to clench their jaws or grind their teeth at night, causing a whole host of issues in your mouth. Clenching and grinding your teeth can both result in broken, cracked, and chipped teeth, as well as increased tooth sensitivity, toothaches, jaw pain, and tension headaches. Ouch. 

Your dentist may be able to identify signs of a sleep problem in your mouth at your regular checkup. However, if you suspect you may have any dental health and sleep problems, it’s a good idea to make an extra appointment so that you can catch any issue before it gets worse. Your dentist may recommend a mouth guard or mouth splint, or they may recommend you see a sleep specialist for more information about your sleep disorder. What matters most is that you seek treatment before any problems get out of hand.

Dental Health and Sleep Connect to Your Overall Health

When it comes to your health, everything is interconnected, and that’s why it’s so important to be mindful of every aspect of your well being. Lack of sleep can lead to problems with your oral health, while problems with your oral health can lead to problems with your overall health. Each piece impacts the next. 

As such, maintaining each aspect of your health is essential for the rest of your health. This fact has long interested Dr. Kami Hoss, a renowned dental expert, dentist, and dad, who has researched and studied this phenomenon over the last 20 years. The result is his forthcoming book, If Your Mouth Could Talk, in which he connects the dots between oral health and whole-body health. Find out more by reserving your copy today and discover how to preserve your health, starting with your mouth. Keep your mouth healthy by getting a good night’s sleep each night. See your dentist or doctor if this is a struggle to find out what steps you can take to improve your sleep for the sake of your health. 


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About the Author

About Dr. Kami Hoss

Dr. Kami Hoss is a nationally sought-after expert with a master’s in craniofacial biology from USC, a doctorate in dental surgery from UCLA, and a post-doctorate in orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics. With over 25 years of experience in the dental field, Dr. Hoss is a #1 National Best Seller author frequently featured on NBC, ABC, FOX, NPR, and CBS affiliates, and founder of The Super Dentists, one of the leading multi-specialty dental practices in the country.

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