Night Owls Get More CavitiesSaturday, August 8th, 2015, 8:54 pm
To evaluate the differences in tooth decay risk between teens that were night owls versus early risers, the investigators looked at the oral health and habits of almost 200 Swedish 15 and 16 year olds. The study participants were classified as being either low risk or high risk for tooth decay and data on their sleep habits, diet and oral care were collected.
The researchers distinguished three different circadian rhythm types:
- Evening types are alert in the evening and tired in the morning
- Morning types are alert in the morning and tired in the evening
- Neutral types who followed neither and were the most common type
The most common sleep cycle, with half of the participants, were the neutral types. Following, with 37 percent, were the evening group and only 13 percent were morning early birds. Morning and neutral types reported eating breakfast every morning and brushing their teeth twice each day. In contrast, the evening types brushed less often and ate breakfast less regularly. More evening types than morning types were rated at high risk for tooth decay.
The results showed that evening types, the stereotypical night owls, had an almost 4 times higher risk of developing cavities. The researchers suggested that dentists incorporate knowledge of their patients circadian rhythms into their patient education aimed at preventing tooth decay.