Stress doesn’t always have clear symptoms, and it’s easy for us to disregard it. However, physical, mental, and emotional stress actually has a huge impact on our bodies and minds and can even lead to illness. Oral health is a key part of our overall health and happiness, and stress can have many negative effects on oral health.
By familiarizing ourselves with some of the key impacts stress can have on oral health, we can learn how to manage and relieve stress, and therefore, improve our oral health, and our overall health and happiness!
Tooth grinding, or bruxism, is a very common problem and is often linked to stress. Often, people grind their teeth at night while they sleep and don’t even realize they’re doing so. Even those who grind their teeth while they are awake may not even realize it, since it can be so habitual. Over time, bruxism can wear down, or even fracture your teeth, and can also cause soreness in the jaw and face.
If you are suffering from bruxism, your dentist can help you find the appropriate treatment, which could mean a mouth guard or muscle relaxing exercises. If you are already a tooth grinder, stress can make it worse.
Canker sores, or apthous ulcers, can be extremely painful. They occur in the mucous membrane on the inside of the mouth, often the inside of the cheek or lip and are small and white, or yellowish, surround by red swelling. Stress can weaken the immune system, leaving the mouth vulnerable.
Extreme stress can lead to neglect when it comes to oral hygiene. Stress can also cause general neglect of health and many people turn to sugary food, alcohol, or other negative habits such as smoking. All these are very harmful for your oral health and can result in tooth decay or cavities.
Gum disease, signalled by sore, swollen, or bleeding gums, can be caused by the abovementioned poor oral hygiene, but stress can also lower the body’s resistance to disease, making it even more vulnerable. If you suspect you have gum disease, it’s very important you visit your dentist immediately, as gum disease can lead to tooth loss if left untreated.
During times of stress it’s important to take time for self-care. There are many people to talk to if you feel that stress is having negative impacts on your oral, or overall health including your doctor, your dentist, or a mental health professional.