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Ask a Dentist in Sacramento: How does sleep quality affect oral health?

By February 12, 2024Sacramento Dentist
Sleepless and desperate young caucasian man awake at night not able to sleep, feeling frustrated and worried looking at clock suffering from insomnia in stress and sleeping disorder concept.

In our fast-paced lives, where stress and deadlines often take precedence, we tend to overlook the importance of sleep quality. Sleep is not just a period of rest for the body – it is a crucial aspect of overall well-being. Surprisingly, the quality of our sleep can significantly impact our oral health, leading to a range of issues if neglected. That’s where sleep medicine and our dentist in Sacramento come in handy.

If you suspect that your sleep quality may be affecting your oral health, then it’s time to contact Timothy E. Mickiewicz, D.D.S. Our dentist in Sacramento, CA, can help you diagnose sleep disorders that impact your smile and provide simple yet effective solutions for remediation. Call (916) 469-9178 to request a consultation with Dr. Mickiewicz today.

In today’s blog post, our dentist in Sacramento explains the undeniable link between sleep quality and oral health. Here, we aim to explore the various types of sleep disorders and their effects on both oral and systemic health. Additionally, we discuss practical solutions to tackle sleep disorders that have a direct impact on oral health.

Understanding the Link

Quality sleep is vital for survival. The body needs adequate rest to repair and regenerate tissues, including those in the oral cavity. However, disrupted or inadequate sleep can disrupt this regenerative time, leading to a host of issues. Indeed, poor sleep quality can set off a chain reaction of negative effects on your oral health.

One of the primary connections between sleep and oral health lies in the body’s ability to fight off infections. A lack of quality sleep weakens the immune system, making it more challenging for the body to defend against bacteria and infections, including those that affect the mouth (like gum disease).

Types of Sleep Disorders and Their Impact

There are plenty of disorders that can disrupt sleep and lead to oral and systemic health issues. However, many people tend to ignore the impact that these disorders have on their health. Here, our dentist in Sacramento explains how certain sleep disorders truly affect the body.


Oh, the dreaded insomnia! As a sleep disorder, insomnia is characterized by difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. This condition is remarkably common, with experts estimating that around 30% of the general population is currently living with chronic insomnia

Our dentist in Sacramento explains that chronic insomnia must meet three criteria:

  • The patient struggles to fall and stay asleep at least three nights out of the week
  • The pattern of sleeplessness persists for longer than three months
  • No other known health conditions are causing the insomnia

Chronic insomnia can lead to heightened stress levels, negatively affecting the immune system and increasing susceptibility to oral health problems. Additionally, individuals with insomnia may be more prone to bruxism, or teeth grinding, which can cause significant damage to the teeth and jaw.

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a problematic sleep disorder. This condition causes repeated interruptions in breathing while asleep, with many sleepers going several seconds (even up to a minute!) without taking a breath. This interrupted breathing causes oxygen levels in the body to fluctuate wildly.

The constant fluctuation in oxygen levels can contribute to dry mouth, a condition that promotes bacterial growth and increases the risk of cavities and gum disease. 

Moreover, medical professionals associate untreated sleep apnea with a higher incidence of cardiovascular issues. These cardiovascular issues can indirectly impact nerves and blood vessels throughout the body, including the mouth.

Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)

RLS is a neurological disorder. People with this condition feel an irresistible urge to move their legs. In many cases, this urge to move the legs becomes a great source of agitation, making sleep much more elusive. 

Furthermore, people with RLS may experience disrupted sleep, leading to fatigue and increased stress levels. The combination of fatigue and stress can contribute to poor oral hygiene habits and an increased risk of developing oral health issues.


Narcolepsy is another neurological sleep disorder. This condition affects the brain’s ability to regulate sleep-wake cycles. As a result, people with narcolepsy may experience sudden and uncontrollable episodes where they fall asleep during the day or at inopportune times. 

These irregular sleep patterns can disrupt oral health by affecting the regularity of oral hygiene practices and potentially increasing the risk of dental problems.

Solutions to Combat Sleep Disorders Impacting Oral Health

While sleep disorders can leave many patients feeling stressed or hopeless, there are plenty of solutions to combat sleep disorders and achieve regenerative sleep. Here, our dentist in Sacramento reveals effective ways to manage irregular sleep patterns

Establish a Consistent Sleep Routine

Creating a consistent sleep routine can help regulate your body’s internal clock, making it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep. Our dentist in Sacramento recommends:

  • Setting a regular bedtime
  • Creating a calming pre-sleep routine (like drinking decaffeinated tea, journaling, or meditating)
  • Avoiding stimulants (like caffeine and electronic devices) close to bedtime

Seek Professional Help

If you suspect you have a sleep disorder, consult with our dentist in Sacramento. Dr. Mickiewicz may recommend a sleep study to diagnose conditions like sleep apnea. Addressing the root cause of the sleep disorder can have a positive impact on both systemic and oral health.

Practice Good Sleep Hygiene

Good sleep hygiene involves adopting habits that promote better sleep. This includes:

  • Creating a comfortable sleep environment
  • Maintaining a cool and dark bedroom
  • Avoiding stimulating activities before bedtime

By incorporating good sleep hygiene practices, you can improve the quality of your sleep and indirectly enhance your oral health.

Stress Management Techniques

Since stress is a common factor contributing to sleep disorders and oral health issues, incorporating stress management techniques is crucial. Practices such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, and regular physical activity can help reduce stress levels and improve overall well-being.

Oral Health Maintenance

Despite sleep disorders, it’s essential to maintain a diligent oral hygiene routine. Regular brushing, flossing, and dental check-ups can mitigate the risk of cavities, gum disease, and other oral health issues. 

Consistent oral care becomes even more critical when dealing with conditions like bruxism, as wearing a nightguard may be recommended to protect the teeth from grinding during sleep.

Address Sleep Disorders with a Dentist in Sacramento, CA

The intricate relationship between sleep quality and oral health highlights the need for a holistic approach to well-being. If you’re ready to see how our dentist in Sacramento, CA, can help you foster a healthier link between sleep quality and overall health, contact Dr. Timothy E. Mickiewicz today. You can request a consultation online or at (916) 469-9178.