How Stress Affects Your Teeth and Oral Health
Stress negatively impacts our lives in many ways. Some obvious signs of stress include headaches and depression, but stress can also affect your life in ways that are often missed until there is a problem. You may not know that stress can have a negative impact on your teeth and oral health.
Learn how stress affects your teeth, gums, and oral cavity and ways you can minimize the damage. Do not let stress send you to the dentist with a mouthful of problems.
Stress causes our bodies to flush out certain minerals that protect the teeth. Acid builds in the mouth, and bacteria can thrive, increasing the chances of cavities and tooth decay. Indirect stress reactions such as eating more sweets or neglecting our oral health can also contribute to tooth decay.
Researchers have proven there is a connection between gum disease and negative emotions. When we are under high stress levels, gum disease is more likely. The more significant the emotional impact, the more severe the gingivitis. There are two reasons for this. First, most people tend to neglect proper oral care when stressed. Second, chronic stress suppresses your immune system, leading to gum inflammation and gum disease.
The most severe cases of gum disease from stress can lead to loose or missing teeth and deterioration of the jawbone. Gum disease increases the risk of many health problems, including diabetes, heart disease, some cancers, and autoimmune diseases.
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Teeth Grinding (Bruxism) and TMJ Disorders
Increased anxiety or stress can lead to teeth clenching/grinding. Most people grind their teeth when they are asleep and are unaware of it. Bruxism(clenching/grinding) often leads to TMJ Disorders. Teeth grinding or clenching, which may be loud enough to wake up your sleep partner and cause sleep disruption. Teeth are flattened, fractured, chipped or loose. Worn tooth enamel, exposing deeper layers of your tooth. Increased tooth pain or sensitivity. Tired or tight jaw muscles, or a locked jaw that won’t open or close completely. Jaw, neck or face pain or soreness. Pain that feels like an earache, though it’s actually not a problem with your ear. Dull headache starting in the temples. Damage from chewing on the inside of your cheek. Treatment for bruxism and TMJ disorders ranges from oral devices such as mouth guard, dental correction, medications, physical therapy or to surgery to smooth and realign the joint.
Stress suppresses your immune system. As a result, your body does not fight off viruses as well. Cold sores caused by the herpes simplex virus are usually triggered by stress. Usually, these show up as sores on the corners of the mouth or lips, but you can also get them on your gums. It is difficult and painful to brush your teeth and floss properly if you have cold sores. The result is poor oral hygiene which contributes to future cavities and gum disease.
Compromised Immune System Response
Your body produces cortisol, a stress hormone, triggering excess protein production in your gums. This leads to inflammation, increasing your risk of gingivitis and periodontitis.
How Your Dentist Can Help
Stress has a profound impact on your oral health, often leading to severe problems with your teeth, jaw, mouth, or gums, leading to more stress. To break the cycle, be sure to find ways to reduce your stress levels or learn ways to cope with it. Try exercise, therapy, relaxation techniques, meditation, or any other solutions that can help you reduce the anxiety and stress present in your life.
You must also visit your dentist for a thorough checkup. If stress affects your oral health, the time to find out is now, not after your dental health has been compromised. Dentists at Main Line Dental Group are trained to spot the early signs of dental health issues. This is when treatment is most effective. When you have addressed any problems with your teeth, gums, and oral health, you will feel better about your overall health and may find some respite from your high stress levels.
If you are suffering from stress, treat your stress levels or see a doctor or counselor who will listen and help reduce your stress levels. Then make an appointment at Main Line Dental Group for a complete dental examination to make sure any resulting dental health issues are addressed.
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