Look out for the tell-tale signs. You know that excessive amounts of stress can have a big impact on your mental health and physical well-being. But did you know that the effects of stress can also damage your teeth? The two are not commonly associated, but a strong link exists.
Effects of Stress on Your Teeth
Watch out for signs that the daily grind making its way into your mouth:
Bruxism is the technical term for grinding teeth or clenching the jaws. There are a number of factors that can lead to bruxism, but stress is one of them. Since the problem is most common during sleep, you could be doing it without even noticing. Signs that you may be grinding your teeth include flat tips, worn away tooth enamel leading to increased sensitivity, and indentation on the tongue. A dental examination can confirm if bruxism is a problem you suffer from.
Temporomandibular (TMD) disorders involve the joints in the gums. One of the most common effects of stress is a clenching of the jaw. If this behavior is repeated regularly over time, it can lead to persistent pain, or a popping/clicking when you use your jaw. If left untreated, these problems can severely impact your oral health.
The exact cause of canker sores is unknown, but they have been linked to trauma in the mouth like biting the cheek or brushing too aggressively. Stress can exacerbate these compulsive and overzealous behaviors and lead directly to additional canker sores. And while they are not a serious oral health condition, they can be annoying and painful.
Stress is thought to inhibit saliva production. Dry mouth is also a common side effect of prescription drugs commonly used by patients with high levels of stress. In that way, both the problem and the solution lead to the same kind of oral health issues.
Research from multiple sources has shown a link between negative emotions and the development of gum disease. And the more intense the emotions are, the more severe the gum disease becomes. Financial problems specifically provoked a strong reaction in the gums, though the link is not yet fully understood.
Learn more: “Periodontal Disease: Get the Facts and Avoid Gum Disease.”
Don’t Get Stressed Over Your Oral Health
Problems with the teeth, mouth, gums, and jaw can have a major impact on how you feel and create a lot of anxiety. In other words, they can be stressful. And as you have just discovered, stress simply makes the problems worse. Stop this vicious cycle by first addressing the sources of stress in your life. Then work with a dentist to explore prevention and treatment options.
Make an appointment at The Happy Tooth, where we work around your schedule and have multiple convenient offices throughout North Carolina.