How Stress Impacts Your Oral Health – and What You Can Do About It

How Stress Impacts Your Oral Health – and What You Can Do About It

With the ongoing stress of COVID-19 and world events many people are experiencing stress these days.

Stress has long been linked to things like tension, headaches, and heart disease.

However, the impact doesn’t end there. Stress can wreak havoc on your entire body, including your teeth, gums, and jaw.

In this article you’ll learn about the link between stress and oral health and what you can do to protect yourself from the adverse effects.

How Stress Affects Your Oral Health

Stress can damage your teeth, gums, existing dental work, and jaw joints.

Here are 4 ways stress can affect your oral health:

TMJ Disorders

When you’re stressed out, your muscles tense up which leads to tension in your shoulders, neck, head, and face. Tension puts pressure on the muscles, ligaments, tendons, and nerves, as well as the jaw joints (TMJ, temporomandibular jaw joints).

This can result in either chronic headaches or migraines.

Teeth Grinding

It isn’t uncommon to clench your jaw and grind your teeth when stressed, also known as bruxism.

Bruxism can lead to headaches, facial pain, and TMJ.

Clenching and grinding can also lead to:

  • Cracked, chipped, or fractured teeth
  • Broken fillings or crowns

Left untreated, cracked or fractured teeth can result in nerve damage and a root canal or extraction may be necessary.

Gum Disease

Stress can also take a toll on gum health. Even if you follow your oral home health care practices faithfully, stress can still lead to gum disease.

Stress causes excess bacteria in our mouth. This causes your gums to swell and become irritated leading to gum tenderness, bleeding, and puffiness.

Dry Mouth

Stress can also cause dry mouth. Saliva acts as a barrier for your teeth protecting them from acidic foods and sugar.

Without that barrier, you’re at an increased risk for dental decay.

Your Dentist or Prosthodontist Can Help You Find Relief from Stress-Related Pain

Routine dental visits catch issues early uncovering signs of gum disease, early decay, and dry mouth.

The frequency and severity of the condition can then be assessed and a plan of treatment can be determined.

There are a variety of devices and services available for treatment options such as:

  • A Dental Mouthguard: A mouthguard protects your teeth and jaw joint from nocturnal bruxism
  • Periodontal Treatment: Treating stress-related gum disease early is vital. Your dentist will recommend deep cleanings (scaling and root planing), a tighter hygiene recall schedule, and might need to prescribe antibiotics and a prescription mouth rinse.
  • NTI-tss Device: A device worn on the front teeth to prevent grinding and relieve muscle tension
  • Botox: Botox isn’t just for reducing fine lines and wrinkles. It can be administered to relax the hyperactive muscles of the jaw and face, significantly reducing your pain.

Managing Your Oral Health When Stressed

When stress levels are high, taking care of your teeth and gums is even more important. One of the best ways to keep your teeth healthy is to prevent problems before they start.

Schedule regular appointments with your dentist or prosthodontist, establish and maintain a good oral hygiene regimen, and be mindful of the stressors in your life impacting your smile.

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