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How Does Stress Affect Oral Health?

How Does Stress Affect Oral Health?

Posted by KENNEDY HEIGHTS DENTAL CENTRE on Apr 4 2023, 09:21 AM

Stress is a normal response to a threatening or dangerous situation. While a certain amount of stress is normal, high levels of stress can result in adverse effects on overall health.

Oral Health Concerns Caused by Stress

Stress can cause a variety of negative side effects on the body, including your oral health. This can manifest in a few different behaviors that can negatively impact your smile. People under stress may grind their teeth at night and clench their jaw during the day in response to feelings of irritation or anxiety. This can wear down the teeth and make them more sensitive. Grinding can result in flattened teeth and gum recession as the upper and lower jaws are no longer properly aligned. Additionally, clenching the jaw puts pressure on the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), causing TMJ disorder. Trips to the dental office can help provide relief from TMD symptoms.

Other symptoms of stress can include bad breath, dry mouth, and gum disease. These conditions can all result from a lack of saliva in the mouth. Saliva helps wash away food particles and bacteria from the mouth, so without it, the mouth can become a breeding ground for plaque and cavities. A dry mouth can also cause sores and discomfort in the oral cavity, as well as difficulties chewing and swallowing.

In addition, stress can weaken the immune system, leaving people more vulnerable to tooth decay and infections of the gums and mouth. Because of this, it's especially important for people dealing with chronic stress to see a dentist every six months for a checkup and cleaning.

Tips for Managing Stress

Practice good oral hygiene: Even though teeth grinding and jaw clenching are unconscious behaviors, practicing proper oral care habits can minimize the damage they cause to your teeth over time. Be sure to brush twice a day for two minutes each time, floss daily, and rinse with an antiseptic mouthwash after meals to reduce the risk of tooth decay.

Drink plenty of water: Staying hydrated throughout the day is important for a number of reasons. It can help prevent dry mouth, which can contribute to bad breath. Plus, staying properly hydrated will help keep your mouth moist. This will help prevent gum irritation and dry mouth, both of which can cause tooth discomfort.

Get enough sleep: Sleep deprivation can increase your risk of experiencing bruxism episodes. This is because you're less able to control your body's movements when you're overly tired. Try to get between seven and nine hours of sleep each night to help you maintain better control of your behavior.

Don't use alcohol or tobacco products: Both alcohol and tobacco can have a sedative effect on you, causing you to clench your jaw or grind your teeth during your sleep. Avoiding these substances several hours before bedtime can be helpful in preventing you from falling into this habit.

Relax before bed: When trying to manage any negative habits you may have, it's important to identify what triggers those behaviors in the first place. For some people, this means finding ways to relax before bed to help keep their minds from wandering into stressful thoughts and images. Find something that helps you wind down and take your mind off the day so you can sleep better and feel more relaxed when you wake up.

See your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings: Regular visits with your dentist are crucial for maintaining your oral health and preventing long-term complications from arising. 

At Kennedy Heights Dental Centre, we strive to provide our patients with a positive and relaxing experience. If you're ready to experience the best dental care, please contact us at 778.438.2084. or visit us at 11960 88 Ave, Delta, BC V4C 3C8. 

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