Between kids, carpools, work deadlines, and money woes, it’s not uncommon for an adult to suffer from stress. Stress can wreak havoc on the body and cause several health issues, including headaches, stomach aches, anxiety, and depression. However, you might not be aware that stress can also have a negative impact on your oral health.
Here are some of the impacts of stress on your oral health and what you can do to prevent your hectic life from damaging your teeth.
Ways Stress Can Impact Your Oral Health
If your doctor has warned you about the ways stress is affecting your health, they might not have informed you about how stress is impacting your oral health as well. Here are a few of the ways stress can negatively impact your mouth, gums, and teeth.
Stress, as well as many of the medications used to treat the anxiety and depression that can stem from stress, can lead to dry mouth. When you do not produce adequate saliva, your gums and teeth are not protected from the bacteria that is naturally present in your mouth.
Burning Mouth Syndrome
Burning mouth disease, or BMS, refers to a condition that impacts the whole mouth, including the lips and tongue. The exact cause of BMS is unclear; however, stress is believed to make symptoms, which including an uncomfortable burning or tingling sensation, worse.
Otherwise known as grinding your teeth, bruxism is a common sign of stress. When you are stressed, it’s not uncommon to clench your jaw and grind your teeth, both during the daylight hours and while you are asleep. Often, if you grind your teeth at night, you might not realize you’re doing it.
Lichen planus is a condition that often occurs if someone is exposed to certain chemicals, takes various anti-inflammatory medications, or has recently received the flu vaccine, and one of the symptoms is oral sores. Lichen planus isn’t directly caused by stress, but stress and anxiety can make the condition worse.
Temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMD, is a condition that impacts the temporomandibular joint. It causes pain, earaches, jaw clicking, and headaches. Two of the causes of TMD are tooth grinding and stress.
Stress can impact your oral health in another surprising way. If you’re stressed and this stress is causing anxiety and depression, you might forget or ignore your normal oral hygiene routine. If you stress-eat sugary treats, skip your bi-yearly dental visits, and don’t brush and floss at least twice a day, you can suffer from several dental issues, including plaque, gingivitis, and cavities.
Ways Your Dentist Can Help
If you suspect stress is causing or exacerbating your oral health issues, your dentist will provide several solutions. Often, the first is to continue your regular oral health routine. Your dentist can also treat specific oral issues that are related to stress.
For example, if you are suffering from dry mouth, your dentist might recommend chewing sugarless gums, avoiding mouthwashes that contain alcohol, putting a humidifier in your bedroom, and trying a mouth moisturizer, such as a specialized, over-the-counter mouthwash.
Bruxism is another common problem for people dealing with stress. To treat this condition, your dentist may fit you with a bite plate. This plate is typically used at night, when bruxism is often at its worst, to help prevent any damage to your mouth or jaw. In addition to a mouth plate, your dentist might recommend cutting down on caffeine or talking to your physician or therapist about the causes of your stress.
Ways You Can De-Stress to Protect Your Oral Health
In addition to working with your dentist to find treatments for your stress-induced oral health issues, there are several ways you can help prevent them. Reducing stress can be difficult, but there are many simple lifestyle changes you can make to help you feel more relaxed, which is good for both your oral and overall health.
Here are a few ways you can reduce the stress in your life:
- Exercise. Getting out of your house and exercising several times a week can help you reduce stress and feel better.
- Stay away from caffeine and sugar. Caffeine and sugar are both stimulants, which can make your stress and anxiety even worse. Additionally, both substances can erode your teeth, so avoiding them is also great for your oral health.
- Get enough sleep. Drop everything and get plenty of sleep. Maintaining healthy sleep habits can help you feel refreshed and less stressed.
If you’ve tried several ways to reduce the stress in your life but are still feeling anxious and overwhelmed, don’t hesitate to contact a therapist. Your therapist can help you talk through your issues and may prescribe a medication that can help you deal with the symptoms of stress and anxiety.
Stress can have a negative impact on your oral health. If you have any further questions, contact the professionals at Silverado Family Dental.