It’s well known that stress can negatively impact your mental health and your physical health, increasing risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, heart attack and stroke. However, did you know that it can also affect your oral health as well? Stress is often associated with poor oral health and increased risk of gum disease, TMJ disorders, and tooth loss. Learn more about how to manage stress and your oral health from Metropolitan Center for Complete Dentistry, a respected dental provider in East Hanover, NJ.
4 Ways Stress Affects Oral Health
Teeth grinding is commonly observed with stress and can stem from your own personal lifestyle or stress inside the mouth and jaw from an unresolved dental problem. When teeth, jaw, and the complicated system of muscles in the mouth and neck aren’t working properly, it can create tension, which can manifest in headaches, facial pain, and teeth grinding.
The number one cause of periodontal disease is from bacteria being allowed to thrive in plaque deposits that have built up, but it is also linked to stress. The bacteria in our mouths bond with mucus and other particles to form plaque on teeth. The plaque that isn’t removed by brushing and flossing hardens and forms tartar. To rid itself of the bacteria, our immune systems release defense cells that cause areas around the teeth to become inflamed. As our gums swell, they pull away from the teeth creating little pockets that allow more bacteria to settle in. Stress often causes people to neglect proper oral hygiene that can control plaque build-up as well as weakening the immune system needed to combat the bacteria.
Like teeth grinding, TMJ disorders are often linked to stress. Many individuals grind their teeth in response to their life’s stressors. However, teeth grinding can lead to deeper problems within the jaw, causing pain when chewing, headaches, or even bite alignment problems. Stress reduction can help reduce TMJ disorder symptoms, but persistent pain may require advanced treatment from your dentist.
Stress releases hormones released by your body can dry out your mouth. A dry mouth is a fertile breeding ground for oral bacteria, which are the cause of gum disease. In addition, individuals in stressful environments may be less likely to engage in healthy habits such as drinking enough water and eating a nutritious diet, which can also contribute to a dry mouth.
Managing Your Oral Health When You’re Stressed
Managing stress can be difficult, and it’s easy to neglect your oral health when there are other things going on in your life. Be sure to maintain your daily at-home oral hygiene regimen to keep oral bacteria at bay, and incorporate stress-relieving techniques such as walks, exercise, and eating healthy foods.
Your dentist is your ally when it comes to your oral health. If you’re in the East Hanover, NJ area, schedule an appointment with Metropolitan Center for Complete Dentistry online or call our office at (973) 287-3153 if you’re looking for help managing your oral health.