How Everyday Stress Affects our Dental Health
Despite all the technological advances of today’s modern world, it seems that people today deal with more stress than ever. Our ability to cope with that stress may become challenging and over time can start to impact our health. Our bodies were made to tolerate short bursts of stress, which ultimately facilitate our ability to get through certain situations. However, continuously elevated levels of stress can prove harmful over time.
Here are some ways that stress can impact our oral health. You’ve probably experienced one or two of these:
- Gum disease – stress can affect your immunity, decreasing its ability to fight harmful bacteria that can cause damage to your gums and cause gum disease.
- Mouth sores – canker sores or cold sores are often times caused by emotional stress. These can cause pain and discomfort for a week or more as healing takes place. One solution is speak to your dentist and ask about medication or rinses to help with discomfort and healing as well as dietary precautions that will expedite healing.
- Teeth grinding and/or clenching of teeth – stress can cause worrying and repetitive thoughts, which can cause grinding during sleep. If you find yourself stressed at bedtime or having headaches upon waking, you may be grinding your teeth at night without being aware of it. Stress can also contribute to unknowingly clenching your teeth.
- Limited time leading to poor oral hygiene – stressful or busy times in our lives may affect our schedule in a manner that does not allow enough time to brush or floss regularly. This can lead to increased risk of developing gum disease and tooth decay.
- Limited time leading to poor diet and nutrition – having a poor diet as a result of stress can cause a lack in important vitamins and essential nutrients needed to maintain health. An unbalanced diet can also lead to an increase in tooth decay.
- Unhealthy habits – bad habits such as smoking as a means of coping may increase during stressful times that may also negatively impact our immunity and increase the risk of gum disease and tooth decay.
- Dry mouth – our saliva is what keeps our mouth balanced, washes away food particles, keeps our breath fresh and is important in digestion. Stress can cause our mouths to become dry. It can also be also be caused by medications that may be prescribed for stress related symptoms.
Ways to cope with stress in life:
- Keep up with oral hygiene home care.
- Get plenty of rest.
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet and drink plenty of water.
- Find relaxing techniques or a self-care plan to help manage difficult times.
- Visit your dentist regularly for exams and cleanings.