How Does Stress Affect Your Oral Health?

Posted by PEAK CITY FAMILY DENTISTRY on Apr 13 2023, 06:33 AM

Stress is a part of everyday life. Many situations can cause stress and increase your anxiety levels. It can affect your physical and mental health, including your oral health. It can affect both your teeth and gums and your jaw. When you are stressed, your body releases cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones can suppress your immune system, which puts you at a higher risk of contracting a cold or the flu.

When your body is producing these hormones, it is also at a higher risk of developing gum disease — in fact, it is the second leading cause of tooth loss after cavities. This is because chronic stress increases the inflammatory response in your body and can increase your risk of gum inflammation.

Long-term stress can also increase the risk of periodontitis, which is an advanced form of gum disease that causes the bones in your jaw to deteriorate. You may have more trouble chewing and eating properly with this condition, and it may result in teeth falling out.

Although a certain amount of physical and mental tension is unavoidable, too much strain can be harmful to your health. Research shows that stress can exacerbate existing oral conditions like gum disease and dry mouth and raise the risk of getting certain diseases. It can also cause gum irritation, teeth grinding, bruxism, and temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ). 

Gum Irritation

The best way to reduce gum irritation caused by stress is to reduce stress as much as possible. This may mean cutting back on work hours or taking time for yourself to relax. If you’re already experiencing discomfort, you can try using a warm compress to soothe the gums. Additionally, avoid chewing on hard objects like ice or fingernails, which can cause further damage. If your condition persists, it may help to speak to your dentist about medication or other treatment options.

Teeth Grinding

Bruxism is the medical term for teeth grinding. When patients grind their teeth, they subject their enamel to strong forces that can crack or even break the teeth. The action of clenching your jaw can also put a strain on the muscles in your head and neck. If you experience any soreness or pain in your face, neck, or shoulders, it may be a sign of bruxism. To prevent further complications, use a mouthguard when you sleep to keep your teeth from touching.

To lower your risk, consider practicing stress management techniques like yoga or taking a walk outside. It is also important that you practice good oral hygiene habits at home, including brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing every night.

Our team at Peak City Family Dentistry can offer you the best dental care in Apex, North Carolina. To schedule an appointment, call (919) 362-8797 or visit us at 200 W. Chatham St., Apex, NC 27502.

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