Apart from your usual oral hygiene routine, you probably don’t think about your teeth very much during the day. So it’s quite likely that while you are sleeping, your mouth is the last thing on your mind. You spend much of your life sleeping, so what’s actually going on in there while you’re in dreamland?
After brushing before bed, the fluoride from your toothpaste goes to work to help remineralise teeth so they can recover from the acid attacks of the day.
BACTERIA DON’T SLEEP
Now we know that our patients always brush before bed, but in case you were ever tempted to skip a night….brace yourself, it’s ugly….
…bacteria that naturally live in your mouth feed on the food you eat. Just like every other living organism, these bacteria excrete waste products after a meal. This waste is so acidic, it breaks down tooth enamel, which leads to active decay and toothache.
YOUR MUSCLES MAY RELAX
Ideally, your muscles relax and rest while you are sleeping to regenerate and restore energy for the next day. For certain people with particular skull, jaw and facial anatomy, this can lead to closing of the airway and snoring. In some it can even lead to a dangerous condition called obstructive sleep apnoea.
OR YOUR MUSCLES MAY TENSE
If you are one of the 16% of the population who involuntarily grind and clench their teeth when sleeping, you may be surprised to hear your teeth are undergoing pressures of 17kg/cm² of tooth surface, night after night. It’s no wonder the effects on tooth structure can be compared to those caused by geological forces and erosion. Protective night splints can help prevent damage to tooth structure and the pain associated with jaw problems.
Saliva production decreases. This makes sense right? We don’t really need it while we’re asleep and it’s a natural mechanism to prevent dehydration. However, bacteria that are present in your mouth become more active and numerous when there is no saliva to wash them away. So during the night, bacteria proliferate and party-on, feeding on mucus and breaking down protein, releasing sulphur gasses (rotten egg gas) … Yes that’s what many of us know as morning breath.
We all think MORNING BREATH is unpleasant. Contrary to many beliefs, it’s also NOT NORMAL and can be a sign of unwanted infection, gum inflammation and other systemic diseases.
To talk to us about ensuring a healthy mouth 24 hours a day, please call our friendly team on 07 3555 7975.
Dr Craig Duval is committed to the highest standards of care for his patients through actively participating in professional development. Since 2003, Craig has attended over 200 hours of continuing education every year. Learn more