It may surprise you to learn that a visit to your dentist can provide clues about your quality of sleep. Many sleep-related issues first show their symptoms during a regular dental exam.

Here are just a few of the oral issues that can impact sleep:

  • Grinding Teeth: Also known as Bruxism, grinding your teeth not only affects sleep quality but also damages your tooth enamel, increasing the risk of cavities and tooth decay. While grinding your teeth doesn’t exclusively happen during sleep, it’s when you’re most likely to do it – and it’s most commonly caused by stress.
  • Childhood Teeth Grinding: Children can also experience teeth grinding which is an indicator of breathing problems due to a constricted airway. If left untreated, it can cause sleep apnea further down the road. A visit to the dentist to be evaluated will ensure teeth grinding issues will be addressed and lessen the likelihood of future diagnoses.
  • Dry Mouth: Saliva is the mouth’s first line of defense against tooth decay.  When you breathe primarily through your mouth, you miss out on that key benefit, which can increase the chances of tooth decay. Mouth breathing is most often associated with snoring.
  • Difficulty Breathing: A symptom of sleep apnea, this condition causes repeated sleep interruptions throughout the night. It can also be a precursor to Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Syndrome, a pain in the jaw joint.
  • Canker Sores: Caused by anxiety and stress, canker sores can make sleeping quite uncomfortable.

How to increase sleep quality through oral hygiene:

  1. Brush your teeth twice a day, every day.
  2. Visit your dentist regularly (twice a year is ideal!) Most problems can be addressed if they are identified early.
  3. Talk to your Dentist about protective appliances that can be worn during the day to protect against teeth grinding. Daytime appliances are not as noticeable and can help considerably against the damages that can occur from teeth grinding.
  4. Floss! Flossing removes food particles and can prevent plaque buildup.
  5. Use mouthwash. It’s not just for fresh breath… rinsing with mouthwash before bed will help keep your teeth free of plaque and cavities.
  6. Oral appliance therapy to treat sleep apnea. A sleep specialist will have patients seek out their dentist who will offer oral appliances to combat sleep apnea. A custom-fit oral sleep appliance fits like a sports mouthguard and can improve your sleep and revitalize your health.

By following a great oral care routine, you can greatly minimize your chances of developing an issue that will prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep. If you have any questions or concerns, let’s chat about it during your next appointment!