Health authorities have long warned us against the dangers of sleep deprivation, but one topic we don’t often hear about is its effect on our oral health. Stress is a known cause of insomnia, but it also works the other way around. When our sleep quantity or quality is poor, our immunity can be compromised, and the result is potential damage to our teeth and gums.

Sleep and the Immune System

A weakened immune system makes us more prone to oral infections. The cause is the decreased production of cytokines – powerful proteins we rely on when we are battling infections or inflammation. Levels of disease-fighting antibodies are also lower when we have not enjoyed restorative sleep. This can cause gum disease as well as decay.

The Effect of Sleep Apnea on Oral Health

If you find that you wake up feeling tired, you snore, or you have morning headaches, check to see whether or not you have sleep apnea. This condition affects 18 million Americans and has big risks for health, including a higher likelihood of heart disease, obesity, stroke, and poor oral health. Sleep apnea affects the mouth in many ways. When we sleep with our mouth open and snore, our mouth can become dry. Saliva production is key because saliva acts as a protective barrier against tooth decay. Sleep apnea can also be accompanied by bruxism (tooth grinding). Finally, it can dry out tooth sockets, which can loosen teeth and cause tooth loss over time.

Sleep Deprivation and Destructive Habits

When you lack sleep, you might be tempted to try to make up for it by consuming coffee or smoking, in an effort to stay alert. Too much coffee can lead to acidic erosion of your teeth’s protective enamel. Smoking, meanwhile is a known risk for tooth loss because it causes gum disease.

Finding the Right Solution

If you are missing one or more teeth, implants can help restore functionality and enable you to smile confidently. All on four dental implants allow you to save on costs, restoring a full set of teeth without the need for individual implants for each tooth. Don’t allow decay to go unchecked; having all your teeth or replacement implants will allow you to avoid pain as a result of tooth movement or loss. Facial pain is one of the most common causes of chronic pain in America, and also a common cause of poor quality sleep.

Obtaining a Diagnosis and Treatment for Sleep Disorders

Because poor sleep quality can have serious consequences for your oral and general health, it is important to take it seriously and obtain a diagnosis, so you can immediately commence treatment. If you have sleep apnea, you may be prescribed a device that will clear your airway and help you breathe better. Otherwise, you may be recommended to try out natural stress-busting therapies such as progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, or breathing exercises.

If you value the confidence that a great smile can give, take good care of yours by making sleep a priority. Good sleep hygiene will help you sleep in line with your internal body clock. However, if the problem is more serious, diagnosis and treatment are key in ensuring that sleep becomes a pleasure and health, a greater priority.