Stress and Oral Health
Stress affects your overall health and can negatively affect your oral health if left untreated. It's important to understand how stress can affect your oral health and ways to minimize or prevent it.
Stress related oral health conditions:
- Teeth grinding or jaw clenching (bruxism) often occurs during sleep and most people are not aware they are doing it. It can happen when a person is concentrating or experiencing a stressful situation. It can cause headaches, jaw soreness or temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain and can wear down teeth or
cause them to break or become loose. Your dentist may recommend a special mouth guard to wear at night to protect your teeth.
- Canker sores or mouth ulcers are an inflammation on the soft tissues of the mouth that often develops into an open ulcer. The painful sore can last for one to two weeks.
- Dry mouth can be caused by stress or from medicines used to treat stress or other conditions. A decrease in saliva can lead to plaque buildup, tooth decay and bad breath.
- Gum disease (periodontal disease) is an infection of the gums. Chronic stress can lower your immune system, making it harder for the body to fight off infections. Gums become inflamed and may bleed. Advanced gum disease can result in gum recession and tooth loss.
- Tooth decay occurs when the bacteria in plaque attacks the enamel of the teeth. Cavities can form and the softer root tissue of the tooth can become sensitive to hot and cold. People experiencing stress may forgo their usual oral health routine which can increase the risk of tooth decay and other oral health concerns.
Ways to manage stress for better oral health:
- Exercise regularly. Even a short walk allows you to enjoy scenery, while still bringing the benefits of exercise.
- Eat healthy by choosing fruits and veggies, along with lean proteins and drinking plenty of water.
- Avoid tobacco and marijuana, as well as excessive drinking.
- Strengthen relationships by talking with a close friend or family member, or seek professional therapy.
- Practice relaxation using techniques such as meditation, yoga and deep breathing.
- Get plenty of sleep to help boost your mood, mental alertness and overall energy level.
Be sure to maintain good oral health habits, such as brushing your teeth twice and flossing once daily. It's important to visit the dentist regularly for checkups to help detect and treat oral health issues early before they become more serious.