Study Review by a Longview Preventive Dentist

Posted on: July 1, 2016

Preventative DentistAs a preventative dentist, I am always monitoring the latest health news to find ways to improve the overall health and well-being of my patients. Recently, a study conducted by the School of Life Dentistry and the Nippon Dental School in Tokyo caught my attention because the study has found a tentative link between periodontal disease (gum disease) and sleep deprivation. While these studies are very preliminary, there is strong evidence to show that among the test subjects who were subjected to sleep deprivation there was an increased evidence of receding gum lines, significant increases in susceptibility to dental infections, and healthy evidence to show that in the absence of adequate sleep, these subjects were far more likely to have gum conditions that progressed rapidly. All of this speaks to a growing crisis in America when it comes to sleep deprivation and an overall habit, as a society, to not sleep enough.

As a preventative dentist, I was already aware of the impact sleep apnea has on society. Over 18 million Americans have been diagnosed with this condition, with many in the scientific community believing that the numbers are far higher when the statistics account for the silent snorers. Silent snoring is a huge problem because it can conceal the true nature of sleep apnea from the patient, and often evades diagnosis. People snore silently because they are snoring above the audible decibel range of human hearing.

Sleep apnea is not the only problem that plagues our dentist patients. An unbridled desire, by society, to get work done and be productive has led to a proliferation of energy drinks, coffee products, and bad habits. All of these have worked on making teeth less healthy directly, while indirectly affecting the patient’s health by causing sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation can play a terrible toll on the body, and on the teeth.

Consider Your Hormones

From the perspective of a preventative dentist, I know that lack of sleep has a severe hormonal effect on the body. When the body is not getting enough sleep it triggers the body to seek out “rewarding foods,” which are high in fat, salt, and sugar. All of these are extremely bad for your dental health, and even worse for your overall health. When you do not sleep enough, your body does not produce enough of the hormone Leptin which prevents you from overeating. Instead, your body produces an abundance of Ghrelin which enhances your appetite. If you have ever wondered where the middle of the night munchies come from, it comes from not getting enough sleep and the competing interests of Leptin and Ghrelin, wherein Ghrelin is winning. Constant snacking because of a lack of sleep is something that is very concerning to a preventative dentist. The residue from the snacks, since most people do not brush after a midnight snack, can cause cavities, gum disease, and other oral health complications. In addition to the oral health issues, this lack of sleep and overeating can lead to serious health issues like obesity and the onset of type 2 diabetes.

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