If you’re reading this, you’ve almost certainly experienced stress and the array of symptoms that comes along with it. Low energy, headaches, an upset stomach, chest pains and sleeping problems are just some of the physical manifestations of stress that humans are susceptible to. One that is often overlooked, however, is the damage that stress can cause to your teeth and gums.
Stress is detrimental to your oral health in multiple ways, making regular dentist visits even more important when you’re stressed out.
Clenching or grinding your teeth can be a result of stressful situations, which damages your teeth, and can also cause a host of other symptoms. Teeth grinding is often involuntary and happens when you are asleep, a habit known as Bruxism.
This grinding can fracture, chip and wear down the shape of your teeth, as well as wear down the enamel which can lead to tooth sensitivity and pain. Your dentist can help you find a solution to your teeth grinding, such as an occlusal appliance to wear at night.
Stress can cause your mouth to reduce the production of saliva, which leads to having a dry mouth. This is often most noticeable during stressful situations. You might not suspect it, but having a dry mouth in and of itself can cause oral health problems. It can lead to bad breath, sores in your mouth and increase the risk of tooth decay and gingivitis.
While addressing the root cause of your stress will play a large role in reducing this symptom, your doctor or dentist may be able to help improve your saliva production.
Gum disease is one of the more severe risks associated with stress, that can result when your immune system is comprised by the stress you are experiencing. Kelsey Lindsey of the Washingtonian detailed findings from studies that connect stress to gum and tissue infections.
“A 2007 review of scientific studies found that there’s a relationship between stress and periodontal disease, which includes gum and tissue infections such as gingivitis. Recent research from Canada also found that participants with more perceived stress reported poorer oral health and greater oral pain compared with participants who had less stress,” Lindsey said. “Alex Vasiliou, lead author of the study, explained in an email that cortisol—a hormone involved in the body’s stress response—impairs the immune system, making a person more susceptible to gum disease.”
The Final Word
Eliminating stressful habits and replacing them with healthy ones will go a long way to reduce stress and protecting your oral health. If you believe you are dealing with stress-related oral health problems, contacting your dentist is recommended, as a dental professional will be able to help protect your teeth as you address your stress.