You are probably aware of the way that stress impacts your mental well-being, increasing the probability of panic attacks, anxiety disorders, and sleep deprivation. However, experts are discovering more ways stress effects your physical health every day. Studies have revealed a strong link between depression, anxiety and oral health issues.
One of the most basic ways stress impacts your oral health is through bruxism. Bruxism is chronic tooth grinding or jaw tensing which takes place most often at night. Although an irregular bite or tooth positioning can cause grinding or clenching, it is most often caused simply by stress. It can be difficult to self diagnose bruxism because it primarily occurs during sleep. However, if you notice tongue indentations, teeth that appear flat, or tooth sensitivity, you may be suffering from bruxism. Without treatment, bruxism can lead to jaw and oral joint problems or temporomandibular joint disorders.
Dry mouth is another risk of excessive stress or certain medications used to treat anxiety or depression. Dry mouth occurs when the mouth is unable to produce sufficient saliva flow. Saliva is not only important for keeping your mouth comfortable, but also for preventing plaque buildup on your teeth. Saliva is responsible for rinsing out your mouth and washing away white blood cells, food particles, and the harmful bacteria that produces plaque.
Although a single conclusive cause for canker sores has not been established, they are often linked to stress. A recent study, by the Academy of General Dentistry, found that a large percentage of students suffer from canker sores while class is in session; however, these sores are less prevalent during breaks and after students graduate. Canker sores are not contagious and relatively harmless. Nonetheless, the amount of pain they cause is disproportionate to their size. Most oral sores go away on their own within a week or so. Experts recommend using over-the-counter topical anesthetics and avoiding particularly spicy or acid food to relieve pain.
Perhaps the most serious side effect of stress is its impact on your immune system. High stress levels decrease the immune system’s ability to function effectively. This increases your chances of developing oral infections or gum disease. Long-term stress can lead to gingivitis, but with an impaired immune system, this is more likely to progress to serious gum disease.
Stress may negatively impact your energy and motivation to maintain your oral and dental health. However, it is important to realize that most of these oral health issues can be avoided simply by flossing and brushing regularly with fluoridated toothpaste. If you have concerns on how your stressful lifestyle is affecting your oral health, contact Lynn Dental Care. We are committed to protecting the healthy beautiful smile you were born with.