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How Stress Can Affect Your Oral Health

In today’s hectic, complex world—stress is a common concern for most of us. With unexpected things happening all around us, coping with stress may be difficult and can start to take a toll on our body. Stress causes a negative state of mind when we experience challenges or difficulties continuously without any relief or relaxation.

Stress can eventually start to have an effect on both our physical and our oral health. Researchers have found several links between stress and the oral health concerns or problems that are listed below.

Stress may lead to the following oral health concerns:

  • Mouth sores – (includes canker sores or cold sores)—one of the main causes for mouth sores is emotional stress.
  • Teeth grinding and/or TMJ pain – If you are waking up with a headache or tired jaw muscles, this is a good indication that you have been grinding your teeth at night. Stress does not stop when you are asleep and your mind and body are affected by constant worrying and thinking, even when you are asleep.
  • Constant clenching of the teeth—stress can cause you to clench your teeth in the middle of a thought or action without you even realizing it. Clenching usually occurs during the day and can cause severe damage to the teeth and to the TMJ joint. You will experience the same symptoms of headaches, tooth pain and overall muscle tenderness.
  • Poor oral hygiene— when you are stressed and have a lot to deal with sometimes brushing and flossing will get missed. Taking time to brush your teeth and floss regularly are crucial to helping your mouth deal with the stress and poor nutrition.
  • Poor diet/nutrition— often we do not have time for nutritious healthy meals. Often the fast foods we eat will lack the necessary vitamins and nutrients to maintain a healthy body. Vitamins A, C, D, K, calcium, potassium, and phosphorus are critical to help maintain healthy teeth.
  • Gum disease or worsening of existing gum disease—stress can decrease your immune system and can affect your body’s ability to fight gum disease. You may notice an overall increase in bleeding and generalized tenderness.
  • Missing regular dental appointments— when you have a hectic schedule coming to the dentist is often on the bottom of the to-do list.
  • Dry mouth—stress is one of the main reasons you could have a dry mouth. You may find yourself having a dry mouth before a stressful appointment, presentation or when you are worried or tired. A dry mouth will result in a lack of saliva in your mouth. Saliva is key in maintaining your oral health. Saliva is critical in digesting your food, keeping the teeth clean, it coats and protects your teeth and gums. It weakens acids that are attacking the teeth and it contains vital proteins and minerals to strengthen the teeth and surrounding tissues. Having dry mouth makes the mouth more prone to decay and increase gum tissue and overall tenderness.
Person practicing yoga

How can you deal with stress?

  • Find relaxing techniques to help manage your stress -yoga, exercise, reading a book, nature walks or a favorite activity.
  • Keep up with your oral hygiene technique at home, brushing and flossing twice a day.
  • Visit your dentist for regular check-ups and cleanings.
  • Talk to your dentist if you think you are clenching or grinding your teeth. Your dentist can examine your mouth for signs of grinding, such as irregular wear on the surface of the teeth, and make suggestions to limit any damage to your mouth. They may recommend wearing a custom-fit night guard to reduce the pressure on your teeth and protect them from wear and damage.
  • Get plenty of sleep.
  • Stay active—exercise will always help elevate stress. Find something you love doing and enjoy yourself.
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet, limit caffeine and alcohol - During times of stress it is common for many to snack and drink more often. Be aware of what, and how frequently, you are consuming food and drinks. Drink plenty of water, especially if you suffer from a dry mouth.

If you have any concerns about how your stress can be affecting your oral health, visit Urban Oasis Dental Studio today—a health professional would be happy to help you!

Thanks for reading!