How Stress Affects Your Oral Health
Stress can contribute to or cause various oral health problems, such as teeth grinding, gingivitis, and canker sores. If you are stressed out, you’re more likely to forego good oral health habits because you are too busy and/or frazzled. You might skip brushing because you feel like you don’t have the time, because you’re too tired, or because you have so much on your mind that you just plain forget.
In times of stress, try not to skip any steps in your oral care routine, even though it may be tempting. If you get out of the habit of proper brushing and flossing, it will negatively affect your overall health.
Stress may also mean that you’re more likely to indulge in sugary foods, which can be comforting in the moment but also speeds up tooth decay. Try to brush your teeth right away if you find yourself eating more sugary foods.
Oral Health Problems Caused by Stress
Teeth grinding is also called “bruxism.” This is when you grind your teeth together, often in your sleep or without knowing that you’re doing it. It is most likely to occur when you are stressed. It is common to hold tension in your jaw, which is why you’re more likely to grind your teeth when you are feeling stressed out.
Grinding your teeth can lead to discomfort, jaw problems such as TMJ Disorder, and can also wear enamel and increase tooth sensitivity. If you are grinding your teeth in your sleep, wearing a night guard may help. It’s very possible that you are grinding your teeth and don’t even know it, but if you visit a dentist they will be able to determine whether or not you are grinding in your sleep.
If you are grinding, one thing you can do at home is give yourself a gentle jaw massage. This can relieve pain and is a relaxing activity, so it may help with your stress as well.
Canker sores are painful whitish or greyish spots that appear inside the mouth and are often caused by stress. If you notice these sores in your mouth, avoid eating spicy and acidic foods until the sores clear up.
Stress lowers the immune system, which makes you more vulnerable to gum disease. during a stressful period, it is important to set aside time to take care of your health. Give your oral health a little extra attention during this time to help prevent gum disease.
If you are going through a difficult or busy time, do what you can to mitigate your stress. Make self care a priority, take time for yourself, work on your mental health, and don’t skip important healthcare appointments like your regular dental checkups!
At Tsawwassen Family Dental, we can help you prevent and treat stress-induced oral health issues.