Getting enough sleep is essential for living a happy and healthy life. The quality of sleep and the number of hours we get per night impact our health, from our skin to our energy levels, mood, and immune system.
Unfortunately, around 62% of adults worldwide don’t feel they get “good” sleep. Good sleep can refer to the duration of hours you sleep in a row, the time it takes one to get to sleep, the quality of the sleep, and the patterns or habits surrounding bedtime.
This leads to men and women of all ages searching for the cause of their sleep issues and trying to find ways to increase the amount of rest they get each night.
It may surprise you that oral health plays a vital role in your sleep health, and dental problems can negatively impact your rest. Not getting enough sleep increases a person's risk for oral issues and disease, so it can be a vicious cycle.
At Next Smile™ Melbourne, we want to help you discover how your teeth could be causing you a lack of or unrestful sleep and what you can do to address the problem.
Toothaches and Gum Disease
The most common reason your teeth could be causing you unrestful sleep is tooth pain. Whether it be a toothache caused by a cavity or pain in the gums due to inflammation, the pain is what will keep you awake all night long. This can be extremely frustrating for those who already struggle to get enough sleep.
Sometimes toothaches subside on their own, but often they can be easily solved by a trip to the dentist. When these issues become chronic, however, there is cause for concern.
Chronic toothaches or gum pain could be due to gum disease or inflammation of the gums surrounding the teeth. It leads people to have daily discomfort, which hurts their sleep cycles. When those experiencing gum pain or discomfort leave it untreated, it causes a whole range of problems, such as movement of the teeth and even tooth loss.
To avoid chronic toothaches and gum disease, practice good oral hygiene and visit your dentist every 6 -12 months to prevent tooth decay and gum disease.
Teeth Clenching or Grinding
Many of us struggle with teeth clenching, and generally, we aren’t even consciously aware we’re doing it. Teeth clenching is an unconscious reaction to stress, and learning to manage your stress in more positive ways can be helpful to your wellbeing, sleep patterns and teeth.
When people clench or grind their teeth, it is called bruxism. Bruxism will wear the teeth down and erode the enamel, which is what protects teeth from decay.
Bruxism can cause chipping and cracking of the teeth, gum recession, and tooth sensitivity. As the gums recede, more of the tooth's nerves can become exposed, making it highly sensitive to temperatures etc. This is because the act puts a heavy amount of pressure on the jaws and teeth. It also causes jaw pain and sore teeth and can even cause headaches and chronic earaches.
When this is the case, a dentist can give the patient a nightguard, which is similar to a retainer and keeps the patient from grinding or clenching while asleep. Grinding or clenching can also be a body’s reaction to untreated underlying issues such as gum disease, which has shifted the placement of teeth and forces the jaw muscles to work harder.
To avoid headaches, jaw aches, and tooth pain and get better sleep, visit a dentist and talk about your options.
Temporomandibular Joint Disorders
Disorders of the temporomandibular joint, also known as TMJ, can result in poor sleep. Studies show that more than half of those with TMD, meaning disorders of the TMJ muscle, have pain that causes either insomnia or difficulty falling asleep or maintaining sleep for long enough periods.
There are options one can get to alleviate this issue, including nightguards, botox, and pain relievers.
Sleep Apnea and Blockages
If someone has sleep apnea, they may not assume their teeth problems are to blame, but they are generally connected. Those who suffer from sleep apnea feel high levels of fatigue throughout the day and commonly have issues with snoring. Sleep apnea interrupts the breathing cycle as it lessens the amount of oxygen to the brain.
One of the most common reasons for sleep apnea, particularly obstructive sleep apnea, is a blockage in the airway passage. This can be due to a lack of space for the tongue and the teeth.
Blockages in the airways can lead some to be “mouth breathers”, which means they sleep with their mouths open at night. Although this in and of itself is not a bad thing, it does lead to dry mouth. As saliva is a defence against tooth decay, it’s best to sleep breathing through your nose with your mouth closed.
Sleep issues can also happen if a person has misaligned teeth. Misaligned teeth or a “bad bite” can be genetic or developed in childhood from habits such as chronic thumb sucking. When the teeth aren’t aligned, chewing is uncomfortable and can lead to chronic pain, which hurts one's chances of a good night's rest.
Dentists and orthodontists can help those who suffer from sleep apnea caused by a bad bite by improving the teeth' alignment with braces.
Although this isn’t necessarily a tooth problem, it is an issue that affects the mouth and causes poor sleep. Canker sores can be caused by overzealous brushing, toothpaste, or mouthwash with sodium lauryl sulphate and dental work and accidentally biting your cheek. They are sores that develop on the insides of one’s cheek and are not harmful or contagious but uncomfortable nonetheless.
Canker sores are caused by stress and can be quite painful for those who suffer, but the pain can be diminished by rinsing the mouth with a mixture of one teaspoon salt, one teaspoon baking soda, and ½ cup of warm water. One can also use a small amount of milk of magnesia on the canker sore 2-3 times per day. You should also avoid spicy and acidic foods as these will irate the area and slow down the healing process.
How to Increase Your Chances of a Good Night’s Sleep
If you’re searching for ways to improve your sleep and ensure adequate oral hygiene, be regimented in your practices, such as brushing your teeth and flossing twice a day, additionally using mouthwash. If you’re worried that you may be grinding, schedule an appointment with your dentist and ask about getting a nightguard.
The experienced dentists who service patients at Next Smile™ Melbourne can help you find the source of your sleep struggles and increase your rest per night. They are well-versed in various dental and oral issues and can guide you toward the right treatments or preventive measures that help you get to bed.
Sleep issues can be disheartening, but before one looks to sleep medications for help, it’s always best to consult with an experienced dentist.