We all know long-term stress can hurt your health both physically and emotionally but many people don’t know that it can also be bad for your teeth and mouth. It’s important to determine the causes of your stress and know your body’s early warning signs. Paying attention to oral symptoms of stress can provide clues to how it’s affecting the rest of your body.
How stress can affect your oral health:
1. Teeth grinding and clenching: If you grind your teeth, you probably do it while you sleep. It’s a common oral health problem. It can cause headaches, a sore jaw, and damage to your teeth. Severe teeth grinding can cause loose teeth or even broken or lost teeth. Stress and anxiety are major causes of teeth grinding.
2. Gum disease: Stress can lower your immune system and increase your risk for infection in the mouth, including gum disease. Taking extra care when you can’t visit a dentist for regular cleanings can help keep bacterial plaque levels down in your mouth.
3. TMJ: Disorders of the jaw joint or chewing muscles. These can cause pain around the ear or face. Swelling or stiffness in these joints can cause a TMJ disorder. Symptoms can include pain, clicking, and popping. Stress is a major cause of TMJ problems. For instance, stress can cause you to clench your jaw and grind your teeth. The increased stress can also lead to tight muscles in the neck and that further aggravates discomfort.
4. Dry mouth: A dry, hot, and burning feeling in your mouth. Stress, anxiety, and depression may be part of the problem. Dry mouth syndrome is more common in women after menopause, so hormone changes may also be involved. Stress-related smoking and drinking can make burning mouth worse.
5. Canker sores: which are caused by the herpes simplex virus HSV-1. Triggers include vitamin B deficiency and any type of mouth injury or irritation. Several studies now show that stress is another big trigger for canker sores. You may be able to reduce canker sores by reducing stress.
6. Nail-Biting: A stress-related habit that can be harmful to your oral health and your overall health. Nail-biting can move your teeth out of position. It can also damage your teeth. Adding the germs from your fingernails to the germs in your mouth can lead to mouth infections. You can even spread warts from your hands to your mouth. Viruses and bacteria that get picked up on your hands can spread to the rest of your body.
Coping With Stress
If you’re concerned about your clenching and grinding, talk to your dentist. If necessary, a dentist may suggest a properly designed nightguard to reduce muscle overload and to protect your teeth from grinding.
Every step you take to reduce stress helps your system from head to toe. Make sure you get adequate sleep, include daily physical activity, deep breathing or meditation, and spend time connecting with family.
Contact us at Capozzi Dental if you have any questions or concerns about your dental health!