There is a lot that can happen through the night --- especially when you are sleeping, or trying to sleep.
Sweet dreams and a quality rest is the goal.
But a sleepless night could trigger the thought of little gremlins working overtime inside your mouth causing plaque buildup, tartar, stubborn cavities, or even worse, the onset of periodontal disease.
Following are 6 tips for putting those thoughts to ease and improving your sleep and your oral health.
The goal is to gently brush to remove plaque, bacteria, and food debris. Don't scrub, this could do harm to your teeth and gums.
There are several good toothbrushes in the marketplace that I recommend. Check out my list on an article I recently published titled, Best Manual and Electronic Toothbrush. I provide you with several options - you can't go wrong with any of them.
Brushing your teeth is a cornerstone of good oral health habits. However, one essential ingredient everyone should ensure is a part of their brushing routine is a fluoridated toothpaste and, when possible, using fluoridated water or mouthwash.
Fluoride plays a critical role in remineralizing teeth while we sleep. After we brush, some of the fluorides in toothpaste dissolve into our saliva creating a potent healing brew. Not only does fluoride directly remineralize teeth, but it also helps facilitate the absorption of calcium and phosphorus - two critical building blocks for healthy enamel.
Check out my article on 10 Tips for Choosing The Best Toothpaste.
Eating a balanced diet is an excellent whole-health strategy, not only for oral and dental health but bodily health and your sleep as well.
I recommend eating all your meals before 8:00 pm if you are planning to be in bed by around 10:00 to 10:30 pm. This will provide your body the rest it needs for a good sleep.
If you are dieting and wanting to lose weight or control diabetes the practice of eating all your meals before 8:00 PM can have a positive effect on your blood sugar and weight. An excellent book to read is The Complete Guide to Fasting by Jason Fung, MD, and Jimmy Moore. You'll find a treasure trove of information in this book.
One direct benefit of eating a balanced diet is providing the vitamins and minerals necessary for healthy teeth and a healthy mouth. Building block minerals such as calcium and phosphate are necessary for building up strong enamel and jaw bones while vitamins such as vitamin A, B, C, D, E, & K all play important roles in promoting the health of the gums which cover and protect the dental roots. Not consuming enough vitamin C, for instance, can lead to scurvy which can result in gum disease and tooth loss. Meanwhile, vitamin D regulates and promotes absorption of calcium and phosphorous. Vitamin D can also help decrease inflammation of the gums as a result of periodontal (gum) disease.
Patients with bruxism, or teeth grinding, should wear a mouthguard or nightguard while they sleep. This leave-in-the-mouth product essentially protects your teeth from being ground down, weakened, and destroyed by subconscious teeth grinding. It also helps you get a good nights sleep as well as your spouse.
If you are waking up with a sore jaw, I recommend an article I wrote titled, The Real Reason Behind Teeth Grinding.
Saliva plays a critical role in maintaining oral health - even while you sleep. Saliva contains important chemicals and substances designed to fortify and remineralize your teeth.
It’s important that saliva "wash and bathe" your teeth while you sleep. That’s why staying hydrated is essential.
Cultivating a diverse and robust oral microbiome is one of the best ways to improve your oral and dental health while you sleep.
Many assume that all bacteria and microbes in the mouth must be bad. This is not the case, as the good bacteria in our gut, which do everything from helping us regulate hormones to fighting off bad bacteria to aiding in digestion, there are also plenty of beneficial and harmless bacteria in our mouths. Out of the hundreds of species of bacteria that live in a person’s mouth, only a few that produce acid as a byproduct of metabolizing sugar are responsible for the vast majority of cavities and periodontal infections. Chief among these bad bacteria are S. mutans and various lactobacilli when it comes to teeth, and Gram-negative anaerobes in regards to periodontal disease.
Besides directly and actively removing them through brushing, flossing, and rinsing, the best way to control bad bacteria is to ensure that good bacteria can out-compete them and crowd them out of your mouth.
If you want to improve your oral health, help the good, probiotic microbes win by eating fermented foods (such as yogurt), foods high in fiber (such as fruits and vegetables), and by avoiding sugar (and forms of sugar) as much as possible, especially at nighttime.
In addition to these tips, I recommend regular dental checkups and cleaning. Whether you are in Concord, Pleasant Hill, Walnut Creek, Martinez, Pittsburg, or Antioch, I hope you will come and see why our patients recommend Willow Pass Dental Care and call us the top dentist in California.