Could The Way You Sleep Be Causing Your Oral Health Issues?
Once you turn out the light and settle in for some shut-eye, you might not think the eight or so hours while you sleep could impact your oral health. However, behaviours in our sleep can sometimes affect our teeth and mouth, leading to dental health issues.
To help you understand whether your oral health concerns could be linked to the way you sleep, check out our guide to four dental health conditions that can be caused or exacerbated by your sleep patterns.
Oral health concerns linked to sleep
1. Dry Mouth
If you regularly wake up with a dry, sore throat and dehydrated mouth, you may be suffering from a condition called xerostomia - otherwise known as dry mouth. While dry mouth can be the result of certain medications, smoking, or particular diseases, it can also be caused by sleeping with your mouth open.
As saliva is essential for ridding the mouth of harmful bacteria, dry mouth can have a negative impact on your oral health. If you’re experiencing symptoms of dry mouth and think you may be sleeping with your mouth open, you might want to see your GP or Dentist to have a sleep study.
Bruxism is the medical term for teeth grinding, which often occurs overnight while we sleep. Aside from causing a wide range of dental health problems - including pain, loose teeth, and cracked or chipped tooth enamel - teeth grinding can also lead to headaches, myofascial muscle pain, and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders.
Teeth grinding can be caused by a wide range of health conditions, from stress and anxiety to certain neurological conditions or simply genetics. If you’re aware that you’re grinding your teeth in your sleep - or if you regularly wake up with a sore jaw, head or neck - talk to your dentist about how to address bruxism.
3. Temporomandibular Joint Disorder
As mentioned above, constant grinding of the teeth or clenching of the jaw can lead to problems with your temporomandibular joint (TMJ), which is located near the front of your ears where the upper and lower jaws connect. The grinding or clenching that can lead to TMJ disorder usually occurs overnight while you sleep.
Symptoms of TMJ disorder include waking up with sore or stiff muscles around your jaw, experiencing frequent pain in your head, neck or back, and having difficulty opening your mouth wide (you may also hear a clicking sound when you move your mouth).
Treatment for TMJ disorder differs greatly depending on the severity of your condition and the underlying cause. Your dentist will be able to advise on the best course of action to address the issue.
4. Obstructive Sleep Apnoea
Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) occurs when the muscles in the back of your throat relax too much while you sleep, impacting your ability to breathe normally and causing you to wake up multiple times during the night.
OSA can cause severe disruption to your sleep, leaving you feeling drowsy and unable to concentrate during the day. It can also impact your health if left untreated, including lowering the flow of oxygen to your organs and causing uneven heart rhythms.
If you have mild to moderate sleep apnoea, you may benefit from an oral appliance worn at night, called an oral mandibular advancement device, which is custom-made by your dentist. This helps to prevent the tissues at the back of your throat from blocking your airway while you sleep. As sleep apnoea treatment can vary significantly, talk to your dentist about the different options available.
For advice on sleep-related oral health conditions, talk to your local National Dental Care or DB Dental practitioner. You can find your nearest practice and book online today