How Poor Sleep Affects Oral Health and Vice Versa

man yawning at work

How often do you wake up feeling rested and ready for the day ahead? For too many, the answer is: not often at all. We tend to think of this as normal, but it’s far from it! During sleep, our bodies should be resting and restoring themselves. When this process is interrupted, we wake up still feeling tired and sluggish.

How does this affect your oral health? Or is your oral health the reason for your lack of good sleep? Continue reading to learn what your sleep patterns and oral health may have in common.

Negative Effects of Poor Sleep

Sleep deprivation affects a person’s ability to think clearly and focus and can lead to many serious physical health consequences like:

  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Weakened immune system
  • Obesity
  • Cardiovascular disease

In addition to all of these, here’s how sleep deprivation affects your oral health:

Gum disease

People who habitually don’t get enough sleep are more likely to develop gum disease than those who do get the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep. Poor sleep often results in inflammation throughout the body, including the gums.

When the gums become inflamed, they also become irritated, causing them to bleed. Over time, pockets of bacteria form below the gumline where disease-causing bacteria fester and populate.

The first stage of gum disease—gingivitis—is easily treatable and reversible. However, when the infection isn’t treated, it becomes more destructive and irreversible.

If you are experiencing, irritated, red, bleeding gums, or any other sign of an oral health problem, contact your dentist as soon as possible.


Bruxism, also known as teeth grinding, is likely to occur when a person suffers from anxiety or has high levels of stress—two of the most common effects of sleep deprivation. Teeth grinding can lead to chronic headaches, dental damage, jaw pain, neck and shoulder pain, and even poorer sleep quality.

Oral Health Reasons for Poor Sleep

Just like sleep deprivation can affect oral health, oral health can affect sleep quality. Here are two oral health problems that may lead to a lack of sleep:

TMJ Disorder

Temporomandibular joint disorder is caused by irregularities in the jawbone joints. Bruxism is one sign of TMJ disorder, and we already discussed how that could affect your sleep. Other signs and symptoms of TMJD include:

  • Popping and clicking in the jaw
  • Lack of mobility in the jaw
  • Tension headaches
  • Difficulty chewing

All of these can make sleeping much more difficult. In many cases, temporomandibular joint disorder is also linked to obstructive sleep apnea.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Many adults, teens, and even children suffer from obstructive sleep apnea without even knowing it. Most of the time, a loved one complains to them about loud snoring, and this is the first indication that something isn’t right.

Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the airways in the throat collapse at night, making it difficult to breathe, and even stopping the person from breathing multiple times throughout the night. This often results in sleepiness throughout the day, irritability, memory issues, and stunted growth in children.

Sacramento Dentist Offers Solutions for Better Sleep

Dr. Timothy Mickiewicz is known as the “Face of TMJ Therapy and Dental Sleep Medicine” and is THE go-to-dentist for your sleep-related problems. If you’re ready to experience better sleep and a better life, call our office today at (916) 469-9178.

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