For the average American adult, stress is commonplace. We pack our schedules, overcommit ourselves and ultimately end up pushing ahead instead of slowing down. While you may be well aware of how stress can affect your body, you may be less informed about how it impacts your mouth. Stress can actually wreak havoc on your teeth, your jaw and the overall condition of your oral health.
If you have one or more of the following dental health concerns, you may want to consider your stress level as the culprit:
Mouth sores are typically categorized as either fever blisters or canker sores, which can both be a byproduct of emotional stress. The herpes simplex virus directly causes fever blisters, but emotional upsets and stress are common triggers for an outbreak. Canker sores typically appear when the immune system is lowered and failing to fight off a virus or bacteria. In general, the body is less able to fight off germs when you’re stressed. If you have a mouth sore that persists for over two weeks, go ahead and let your dentist examine it.
Gum Disease and Decay
It is common to slack on your oral hygiene efforts when you’re stressed. Maybe you fall asleep on the couch without brushing your teeth, or eat more sugary snacks to cope with your stress. Either way, you are providing an open invitation for oral health problems such as tooth decay and gum disease. When plaque doesn’t get brushed off your teeth and gum line, your smile suffers. In fact, if decay or gum disease gets bad enough, you may be at risk for tooth loss – which is certainly not going to help your stress levels!
Do you bite your nails, grind your teeth or clench your jaw when you are stressed? You’re certainly not alone. For some, these dental habits are subconscious actions. Unfortunately, whether you are aware you are doing it or not, the consequences are still the same. Teeth grinding (bruxism), clenching, nail biting and pencil chewing can all wear down your teeth and put extra stress on your TMJ (jaw joint). Over time, you may suffer from jaw pain, jaw stiffness or headaches.
That work deadline or your financial situation may not be avoidable. However, it is usually possible to find ways to reduce or manage the stress in your life. For the sake of your health, your smile and your emotional well-being, find something that will help you relax. Whether it is yoga, counseling or just learning to say no, we encourage you to do what works for you. In the meantime, don’t ignore signs of oral distress. Contact Basin Dentistry today if you are suffering from jaw pain, frequent mouth sores, gum inflammation or other dental problems. We will do our part to restore your smile!
Posted on behalf of Basin Dentistry