Here’s What Happens to Your Teeth While You Sleep

During the day, you have ample opportunities to improve your oral hygiene by brushing, flossing, and choosing healthy foods. But when you go to bed, you don’t have much control over what happens in your mouth.

What you learn might surprise you a bit. If nothing else, it will definitely convince you to brush your teeth immediately before bedtime.

Bacteria in your mouth eat and excrete

Depending on how often you brush and floss, each of your teeth carries between 1,000 and 100,000 bacteria. When you go to sleep, those bacteria get busy consuming any source of nourishment they can find. Since they’re microscopic creatures, they can feast on small pieces of food stuck between your teeth or beneath your gum line.

The thought of bacteria living in your mouth probably sounds pretty gross. It gets much worse. Like all living things that eat, bacteria also excrete. Unfortunately, their excretions are highly acidic. As the acid sits on your teeth, it damages your enamel and contributes to problems like tooth decay and gum disease.

You can’t eradicate bacteria from your mouth, but you can manage the population and minimize the damage they cause. Always brush and floss your teeth before you go to bed. The less food bacteria have, the fewer your mouth can support.

Your mouth makes less saliva

When you sleep, your mouth produces less saliva so you don’t keep swallowing all night. Unfortunately, less saliva helps bacteria and germs thrive.

If you have bad breath in the morning, it’s probably because a lack of saliva made it possible for bacteria and germs to grow their numbers overnight.

Again, brushing before bedtime will help manage bacteria. You should also brush your teeth when you wake up. Otherwise, the bacteria and germs will keep multiplying and excreting.

Many people grind their teeth while they sleep

Studies show that about 8% of adults grind their teeth while they sleep, a condition known in the dental world as “bruxism.” Even more alarming, about a third of parents say their children grind their teeth while sleeping.

If left unchecked, bruxism can lead to numerous problems and potentially, a dental emergency. When you grind your teeth, you can:

Other problems caused by bruxism include:

If you have bruxism, then you may need to wear a guard while you sleep. You can also try to manage the condition by lowering your stress during the day, avoiding caffeine near bedtime, abstaining from tobacco products, and drinking less alcohol.

Be diligent about evening and morning care for your teeth

Other than following a good dental hygiene plan that includes brushing and flossing before and after sleep, there aren’t many things you can do to change what happens in your mouth during the night.

Since you have limited options, it makes sense to rely on preventive care that will keep cavities, gum disease, and other problems at bay.

Schedule an appointment with Marzieh Oghabian, DDS or Esfandiar Abadi, DDS to get the services you need to protect your oral health. We also offer services to help improve your smile such as braces, implants, and teeth whitening. Call our office today at 925-267-8251 or request an appointment using our online booking tool.

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