We all know that stress can affect our heart and other vital organs but it has also been linked to your mouth. There are many indications that stress is causing damage in your gums and teeth. TMJ and teeth grinding are two of the more obvious symptoms that stress is wreaking havoc in your mouth. Stress has also been linked to general poor oral health, including, tooth loss and gum disease. The dentists at Valley Dental Health in Hunt Valley, MD can help you with all your oral health needs, including those related to stress.
4 Ways Stress Affects Oral Health
As was previously mentioned, teeth grinding is an outward sign that stress is causing damage in your mouth. While teeth grinding is not just associated with stress, it is a leading cause but other conditions may be contributing to it. If your jaw and muscles aren’t in alignment, this may also cause tension and cause you to grind your teeth which then leads to headaches and facial pain.
Gum disease is usually caused by the bacteria found in plaque. When enough bacteria builds up and is left untreated, it will lead to periodontal disease. This also can be linked to stress. Stress causes excess bacteria in our mouths, the excess bacteria then bonds with the fluids naturally in our mouths and eventually forms plaque. Tartar is formed when the plaque is not adequately removed with brushing and flossing. Our bodies will try to get rid of the bacteria around our gums causing the gums to swell and become irritated. As they become irritated and swell, they pull back from our teeth allowing more bacteria to fill in those spaces.
Many TMJ disorders can be directly related to stress. One of the ways that we deal with stress is to clench our jaw and in severe cases grind our teeth. This can cause headaches and muscle aches within and around the jaw. It may even lead to a misalignment of the jaw. Reducing stress can go a long way in reducing the pain and discomfort from teeth grinding and TMJ issues.
Another sign that you are suffering from stress is with a dry mouth. While one would expect a damp environment to be a breeding ground for bacteria, but a dry mouth is also a breeding ground for oral bacteria. A dry mouth has less saliva to wash away bacteria that can eventually lead to periodontal disease. Another issue is that when people are under stress, they are less likely to maintain healthy habits which include drinking enough water and consuming a nutritious diet. These factors can lead to a dry mouth, thus allowing bacteria (and gum disease) to flourish.
Managing Your Oral Health When You’re Stressed
We all have stress in our lives; the challenging part is trying to manage it. Oftentimes, we neglect our oral health but taking care of our teeth and gums during stressful times is even more important. Establishing and maintaining a good oral hygiene regiment under low stress periods will help to maintain good oral hygiene during stressful periods. Having a few stress-relieving activities available will help keep both your body and mind fit.
Your dentist at Valley Dental Health can assist you in finding ways to keep your teeth healthy while under stress. Please schedule an appointment today!