How Stress Affects Oral Health

How Stress Affects Oral Health

In today’s hectic environment, stress is a common concern for a lot of people. The start of 2020 has been particularly tough, and has increased anxiety and stress in people.

Coping with stress can be difficult and it can start taking its toll on your health. This includes your oral health.

Let’s look into the conditions that long-term stress can have on your oral health, as well as tips that can be implemented to reduce its impact.

Oral Conditions Caused by Stress

Gum Disease & Periodontal Disease

High-stress levels can cause an increase in the hormone cortisol. The increase in this hormone can lower your immune system and can lead to problems such as gum disease, along with other non-oral related health issues.

Gum disease can lead to long term damage to your mouth, such as tooth loss. Find out more about gum disease and ways to reduce your risk of getting it here.

Stress may cause a flare-up of periodontal disease, which may include developing an abscess, an increase in tooth mobility and increased inflammation.

Dry Mouth

Dry mouth can be a side effect of stress. Medications for treating stress can also cause dry mouth.

Your first defence against bacteria in the mouth is the production of saliva, which breaks down and kills the bacteria. Saliva also helps to remove food particles from your teeth throughout the day. Without the production of saliva, there is an increased risk of getting gum disease, tooth decay, and infections in the mouth.

Teeth Grinding & Clenching

Stress can cause you to grind or clench your teeth throughout the day, and in your sleep. This may be something you are doing without even realising. Signs that you are grinding or clenching your teeth in your sleep include;

  • Sore jaw
  • Morning headaches
  • Increased sensitivity when exposed to hot and cold drinks
  • Flat, chipped, or worn-down teeth

If you see your dentist regularly, they will be able to spot the signs of teeth grinding.

Mouth Sores

Ulcers and cold sores can be related to added stress in your life. While they are relatively harmless, they can be very painful and affect your day-to-day life.

If you notice that you are getting ulcers and cold sores more often, reflect on your lifestyle and identify if there are any recent changes that could be causing these sores.

How to Reduce the Impact of Stress on your Oral Health

Daily Oral Hygiene Routine

How well you look after your teeth on a daily basis is going to be extremely important. Establish a routine that ensures you brush your teeth twice a day, and use interdental brushes at least once a day.

This will help reduce the risk of getting any of the above conditions.

Healthy Lifestyle

Taking part in activities that reduce tension, such as yoga, can positively impact your stress levels and reduce the risk of damage to your mouth.

Decide on the activities that help you manage your stress, and ensure to include these weekly. Whether it is walking, running, or cycling, include what suits you best.

Eating a healthy balanced diet is also going to be important. Avoid processed sugar, smoking, and alcohol.

Night Guards

We mentioned that teeth grinding can be caused by stress. A lot of the time this grinding occurs while someone is sleeping. Using a nightguard while asleep will protect your teeth. It will act as a barrier between your teeth protecting your enamel. It also provides cushioning to reduce the tension in your jaw.

Regular Dentist Visits

Regular dentist visits are really important, as your dentist will be able to spot a change in your oral health and provide you with advice and treatment to rectify the problem.

We recommend seeing your dentist every 6 months.

If you think stress is affecting your general health, we recommend seeing your doctor. If it is affecting your oral health, don’t hesitate to get in touch to see how we can help.

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