by Victoria Simpson
Are you a night owl? Love staying up to catch the Late Late Show? Taking a break at night has its advantages, but sleep isn’t one of them. And studies show that it isn’t just our eyes that feel the burn of too little rest the next morning, but not sleeping enough actually impacts all sorts of areas in our body, including our gums.
Want some proof? Amazingly, not getting enough sleep is the second leading cause of periodontal disease after smoking. Who knew!
In a study done a while back by Osaka University Graduate School of Dentistry, in Japan, researchers followed a group of 219 factory workers from 1999 to 2003 to find out if there was a specific relationship between periodontal disease, or gingivitis, and lifestyle factors.
Researchers looked at the daily acts of eating breakfast, exercising, consuming alcohol, smoking, eating a balanced diet, suffering from mental stress, sleeping, and working. They found that lack of sleep ranked second among all these factors, as a cause of periodontal disease.
Here are the stats: those individuals in the study who received seven to eight hours of sleep per night showed less periodontal disease progression than those who received six or fewer hours of shut eye.
And the findings are something that has been echoed in the U.S.
“…there are lifestyle factors other than brushing and flossing that may affect… oral health,” says Preston D. Miller Jr., DDS, president of the American Academy of Periodontology. “Simple lifestyle changes, such as getting more sleep, may help patients improve or protect their oral health.”
The tricky thing is that, according to sleepfoundation.org, forty-five percent of Americans say that poor or insufficient sleep affected their daily activities at least once in the past week, according to the National Sleep Foundation’s Sleep Health Index™.
And periodontal disease, which is thought to be caused by an imbalance of bacteria in the mouth, can be a serious thing. It affects both the teeth and gums and in extreme cases, causes bleeding and ultimately, it can lead to a loss of teeth.
So, are you a victim? Check the list.
Symptoms of gum disease can include:
- Bad breath that won’t go away
- Red or swollen gums
- Tender or bleeding gums
- Painful chewing
- Loose teeth
- Sensitive teeth
- Receding gums or longer appearing teeth
These warning signs could be an indication of something else, of course, but it’s always a good idea to check in with your dentist to see what’s what. That tender spot might not just be some celery stuck between your teeth. It could be a sign of something that needs some help.
Dentists and dental hygienists can treat gum disease by removing the plaque and getting down to the pockets of your teeth where the most harmful bacteria exists.
It’s as simple as that; a dental visit.
So, enjoy the late hours, but remember to sleep in. Get some rest. Or, simply go to bed early. Starting the day late may be annoying, but it’s better than losing your teeth.