The clocks are going back in the UK and it could cause tooth problems

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Around one in three people in the UK are thought to have experienced difficulty sleeping at least once. Not only can it wreck havoc on our daily lives, but it can start to impact our health the longer it carries on. And with the clocks set to change this weekend, many will experience disrupted sleep patterns.

Chief orthodontist at Impress, Doctor Khaled Kasem, spoke with about some of the common dental issues caused by sleep deprivation.

These include tooth grinding, bad breath, bleeding gums, gum infections, tooth decay and even tooth loss.

“Sleep deprivation impacts our body in many ways other than just making us feel tired, but most surprisingly is just how much it can impact our oral health,” he said.

Inflammation of the gums

Doctor Kasem said: “One of the most common dental issues caused by sleep deprivation is inflammation of the gums, otherwise known as gingivitis, and this is caused by the additional inflammatory hormones produced by the body when it isn’t getting enough sleep.

“The first sign of gum inflammation is bleeding gums – it’s at this point you must act and seek advice from a medical professional, as gingivitis can lead to more serious dental problems such as periodontitis, the development of pockets between your gums and teeth, and eventually tooth loss.”

Gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease.

Symptoms of gum disease include:

  • Your gums bleeding when you brush your teeth, floss or eat hard foods such as apples
  • Your gums becoming swollen, red and sore.

Teeth grinding

He explained: “Although bruxism (clenching/grinding your teeth) is most typically a result of stress and anxiety, it is also common amongst those suffering from sleep deprivation and it can seriously impact the health of your mouth.

“Mild cases might not require treatment, but those who frequently clench and apply too much stress to their teeth could develop severe jaw disorders, headaches and migraines, flattened/fractured teeth, increased tooth sensitivity and even tooth loss.”

Weakened immune system

“The primary function of our immune system is to help defend the body against infections, and it is vital in maintaining the overall health of the body,” he said.

“Not only that, but a strong immune system contributes to healthy teeth and gums, and a lack of sleep will weaken the immune system and its ability to protect the mouth against common infections.”

Bad breath

Doctor Kasem added: “A lack of sleep reduces the production of saliva in the mouth.

“Saliva is required to keep our mouths clean by reducing the amount of bacteria, but if this is in limited supply and our mouths become dry, the bacteria will build and our breaths will smell.”

He recommended seeking medical help if you are frequently struggling to get a full eight hours of sleep at night.

The link between insomnia and dental problems is backed by the American Academy of Medical Orthodontics.

On its website it says: “There are many studies showing that insomnia can increase the risk for several diseases and conditions in the body, including the mouth.

“During sleep, the body produces saliva, which helps maintain teeth and soft tissues healthy.”

It also states lack of sleep can increase the “binge-eating” of sugary and processed foods, “increasing the risk for tooth decay”.

The NHS classifies insomnia as if you:

  • Find it hard to go to sleep
  • Wake up several times during the night
  • Lie awake at night
  • Wake up early and cannot go back to sleep
  • Still feel tired after waking up
  • Find it hard to nap during the day even though you’re tired
  • Feel tired and irritable during the day
  • Find it difficult to concentrate during the day because you’re tired.

It says adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep a night.

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