Everyone knows that stress is bad for you. It can lead to all sorts of major health issues, including heart disease. However, did you know that it can affect your oral health as well? The symptoms that stress causes in your mouth aren't as obvious and common as those caused by other health problems. Nevertheless, they can still be very unpleasant to deal with.
For example, if you're experiencing a lot of tension due to your job, you might clench or grind your teeth more often than usual. This can cause tooth pain or headaches. You may also notice more pressure under your jaw or a dull ache in your muscles. It's best to see your dentist about these issues. They may be able to fit you with a night guard to wear while you sleep to help. In many cases, this will stop you from grinding or clenching in the first place.
The connection between stress and your oral health is a two-way street, meaning that stress can both cause poor oral health and worsen existing conditions in your mouth. For example, when your mouth perceives a threat – such as when you become stressed that you might not be able to pay your bills – your body sends a signal to your autonomic nervous system that triggers your fight-or-flight response. This motivates you to take immediate action, like fighting off an attacker or running to safety.
However, the body responds to this threat by releasing a flood of stress hormones into the bloodstream and into your muscles, including the muscles in your jaw, which tense up in preparation for whatever is causing the worry. This can affect your bite alignment, causing your teeth to become unevenly worn on opposite sides. Additionally, it can trigger bruxism, clenching and grinding your teeth at night as a response to the discomfort caused by clenched teeth. Over time, this can crack your teeth or even damage them to the point where they need to be extracted.
In addition, some researchers believe that stress-related hormones and other chemicals might be responsible for triggering periodontal disease in some people. They theorize that this could be related to inflammation, which is a common symptom of the disease. Inflammation is a defensive mechanism of the body in response to injury or infection; however, if allowed to continue unchecked, it can cause damage to the body's tissues. Gum disease, for example, leads to soft tissue damage and tooth loss.
If you're experiencing a lot of stress, it can release chemicals that increase your risk of oral infections like tooth decay and periodontitis. However, there are things you can do to help manage it, starting with your oral hygiene routine.
Some of the habits you can practice include:
- Brushing your teeth after every meal
- Flossing daily
- Rinsing with a mouthwash
- Eating a balanced diet
It's important to maintain good oral health when you have a high level of stress, even if you can't fit in the other things on this list. Keeping up with your regular wisdom regimen is a good way to reduce stress and keep your oral health in great shape at the same time!
Get in touch with Care' N' Cure Dental at 1901 Northwest Hwy #103, Garland, TX 75041, United States, or call (469) 298-3892 to schedule your next dental cleaning.