Sleep is vital to every part of your body, including your gums. If you are not getting the sleep you need, you are likely going to be at an increased risk for gum disease. If you want to keep your gums healthy, start by making sure you get a good night’s sleep every night.
Scientific studies have established an association between poor sleep and gum disease. A 2007 study showed that lack of sleep was the second most important lifestyle factor predicting poor gum health. It was almost as bad as smoking for your gum health.
This association was confirmed in 2014 with a study of non-apnea sleep disorders and gum disease, which showed a similar link between a lack of sleep and increased gum disease risk.
But we don’t know why. Here are some possible explanations.
One reason why sleep might lead to poor gum health is that your immune system may be weakened. When we’re not getting enough sleep, our numbers of certain immune cells go down. These special T-cells are designed to protect us from invaders like gum disease bacteria.
On the other hand, cytokines go up. This is actually bad because cytokines are the proteins that lead to your body’s inflammatory response. This can increase the amount of swelling you experience from gum disease and even increase the risk that you’re going to develop a more serious type of gum disease called periodontitis.
When you’re tired all the time, you may be tempted to skip important but mundane tasks like brushing and flossing your teeth. This can lead to increased buildup of plaque which in turn increases your risk of gum disease.
Another risk tied to lack of sleep is your daily caffeine habit. Although coffee and tea aren’t themselves bad for your teeth and gums–they may even be protective–most people don’t drink them alone.
Adding milk and sugar to your afternoon coffee–although it can reduce staining–feeds oral bacteria, allowing them to multiply and do more damage to your teeth and gums.
And it’s even worse if you turn to energy drinks or soda to try to perk yourself up. These are not only high in sugars, but they’re very acidic, which can damage both gums and teeth.
It’s important to get yourself enough sleep every night to protect your oral and general health. This doesn’t necessarily mean 8 hours for everyone, but you shouldn’t be waking up tired in the morning. Some sleep doctors go so far as to say that if you need an alarm to wake you up, you’re not getting enough sleep. Definitely, though, if you find yourself feeling tired throughout the day and lean on stimulants to make it by, you need more sleep.
And if you can’t seem to get enough rest no matter how much you sleep, you should talk to a doctor about sleep disorders that may be responsible.
We can help you watch over and preserve the health of your gums to protect your teeth and your overall health. Please call (310) 275-5325 today for an appointment with a Beverly Hills periodontist at Nicolas A. Ravon, DDS, MSD.