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Stress and Your Oral Health

Stress and Your Oral Health
Posted on January 27, 2023

It is common knowledge that experiencing higher than average levels of stress can manifest itself in physical ways, affecting both the mind and body. If you experience chronic stress, you may start to experience issues with your oral health as a result. Here is what you need to know about stress and how it can affect your oral health.

How does stress impact us?

At some point in our lives, whether we know it or not, we’ve likely all experienced some form of stress. Stress can be caused by our professional lives or what’s happening in our personal lives. 

Some people are much better at handling stress than others. If we don’t handle or react to stress very well, it can seriously start to impact our physical and mental health. Too much stress can lead to changes in our natural physiology.  It can change our physical exercising and eating habits as well as cause us to increase our alcohol consumption. 

Stress and your oral health

While it’s very often mentioned that too much stress can hurt our physical health, the impact on your oral health is often downplayed, but it is an equally important component of your holistic well-being.

There are a few ways in which too much stress can manifest itself, ultimately impacting your oral health. The first, which may be the most common side effect, is teeth grinding. Most often this is experienced at night when someone is sleeping.  A person may not realize they’re doing it, however, they may wake up with headaches or aches in their jaw from the grinding. Grinding your teeth excessively can wear down the enamel on your teeth or even cause teeth to chip. If the enamel is worn down, it can lead to cavities and tooth decay. 

Further, grinding and clenching can cause pain in a person’s jaw, making it difficult or even painful to chew food. Grinding can exasperate existing TMJ issues (pain in your face, jaw and headaches). 

From a behavioural perspective, when stressed, we often change our eating habits and consume more sugary foods. Consuming more sugar can lead us to experience tooth decay or require more major dental work. While this side effect may not be evident right away, it can cause long-term damage which translates to future extensive dental visits to fix it. 

Finally, for some people, extra stress can cause a decrease in saliva production resulting in constant dry mouth. Having a dry mouth all the time can cause extra bacteria to build up on your teeth, which can eventually lead to cavities. Further,  those dealing with extra amounts of stress can stop putting as much effort into hygiene activities like brushing their teeth, and if that continues for an extended period of time, it can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. 

How to reduce your stress levels

If you notice that there is a lot of stress in your life, there are many ways you may be able to reduce the amount of stress you’re experiencing. Finding a hobby you enjoy can go a long way. Reading, exercising, cooking, taking a class, meditating or just blocking in some alone time in your busy schedule can help. 

Contact Creek View Dental today.

Are you experiencing stress-related issues with your oral health? Contact us today to make an appointment with one of our dentists. 

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