Stress is an inevitable part of daily life. Stress is a natural response of the body to a stimulus that triggers it. But, when stress becomes chronic, it can be damaging to your physical and mental health. It can even affect your dental health.
Stress is the body’s response to change or demand, whether positive or negative. When the body experiences a negative event, it releases chemicals into the bloodstream that prepare the body to react physically. The body can react by speeding up the heart rate and breathing as well as triggering a “fight or flight” response. Once this happens, the body is unable to perform basic functions like digesting food or producing saliva, which is essential for good oral health.
The mouth is directly connected to the brain. Therefore, when the body is under extreme duress, the mouth may be affected as well. For example, studies have shown that people suffering from PTSD are more likely to have gum disease than those with general anxiety.
When you experience stress, whether due to work, school, personal problems, or other factors, your body responds by producing increased levels of cortisol and adrenaline, which can result in a number of symptoms, including dry mouth. So, without enough saliva to flush away plaque and food particles from your teeth, you have a higher risk of developing tooth decay and gum disease. You may also notice an increased tendency to clench your jaw when you’re stressed, which can put excess force on the teeth and increase the risk of bruxism. Bruxism is when you clench your jaw and grind your teeth while you sleep at night. This can damage the teeth and cause pain in the jaw. It can also result in tooth fractures, loose teeth, chipped teeth, or even tooth loss. Clenching can also affect your bite and lead to TMJ disorder or other problems with the temporomandibular joints.
Learn and practice stress management techniques to reduce the effect of stress on your oral health. Taking time out of your day to relax can help reduce the amount of stress that accumulates over time, and this can help you avoid serious oral health problems in the future. Some helpful relaxation techniques are seasonal changes, deep breathing, meditation, yoga, tai chi, massage, journaling, and exercise. If stress continues to affect your oral health even after practicing these relaxation techniques, talk to your dentist about a mouthguard to protect your teeth while you work to reduce your stress levels.
Please reach out to our dental practice in Kansas City, KS, to have a consultation with our dentists, Dr. Moreno and Dr. Tejada. Please call us at (913) 647-1900 or schedule an online consultation, and we'll guide you further.