Stress can affect your entire body, including your oral health. Stress can alter your hormones, increase inflammation, and weaken your immune system. High levels of stress can negatively impact your oral health, leading to a variety of problems, including dry mouth, teeth grinding, bad eating habits, gum disease, and more. People deal with stress in many ways. Some turn to alcohol or cigarettes to cope mentally, while others eat poorly or forget to brush and floss their teeth regularly while they’re busy dealing with other stressful matters. All of these habits can lead to oral health issues.
Mouth sores, for example, are a direct result of lowered immune system response due to excess cortisol production when the body is under stress. This, in turn, causes the mouth to be more susceptible to infection from bacteria that get into the mouth and cause sores. These sores are painful and can make it difficult to eat or normally talk until they’ve healed.
Stress can impact your whole body, including your mouth. The American Dental Association (ADA) reports that chronic stress can manifest itself through a variety of symptoms, such as headaches or jaw clenching. These physical responses can increase the risk of grinding your teeth at night – also known as bruxism – which can lead to tooth damage and the need for restorative dentistry treatments like dental crowns.
Another concern for people who experience high levels of stress is TMJ disorder (TMD). This disorder affects the temporomandibular joint where the upper and lower jaw meets. TMD can cause pain in the face, neck, shoulders, and head; it can also prevent people from opening their mouths fully or chewing their food thoroughly. It can also affect a person’s ability to speak clearly.
Your body’s stress response is often triggered when you’re feeling anxious or worried. In these moments, your body may release hormones that speed up your heart rate and increase your blood pressure. Your breathing also becomes more rapid. While the immediate response can be helpful if you need to run away from a threat like a bear, it also puts a great deal of strain on your body over time.
When it comes to your mouth, these reactions can lead to an increased risk for oral health problems such as tooth decay and gum disease. When under stress, you may forget to practice good oral hygiene habits like brushing and flossing regularly. Without proper prevention techniques, bacteria build up in your mouth. This harmful bacteria leads to the development of cavities that eventually lead to tooth loss and more intensive dental treatments such as a root canal.
Reducing your stress levels can help reduce the effects of stress on your body in general. It can help improve your overall health and reduce the likelihood of developing oral and overall health problems. There are a variety of ways to help reduce stress in your life, including exercise, meditation, a hobby you enjoy, and even taking some time for yourself each day to wind down and relax before going to bed.
At Point Loma Family Dentistry, our team is dedicated to providing you with excellent dental care in a relaxing atmosphere. To know more about treatments offered by our dentist, call us at (619) 223-3811 and schedule an appointment to visit the dental practice.