When you imagine being stressed, you probably associate it with insomnia, anxiety, feeling tense and anxious and other unpleasant symptoms. However, you may not realise the possible impact on your dental health. Listed below are three ways stress can affect oral health and how we can help you overcome these problems.
Increased Risk of Gum Disease
When you feel stressed or anxious, your body produces higher levels of a hormone called cortisol. If cortisol levels are higher, it reduces your ability to fight infections which is why people who feel stressed are more susceptible to colds and problems affecting their dental health, such as gum disease.
Teeth Grinding and Clenching
It’s not uncommon to find yourself clenching your jaw or grinding your teeth together when you feel stressed or upset. Occasional teeth grinding and clenching isn’t likely to be a problem, but it can become an issue if it is more persistent, which is called bruxism. Bruxism often occurs during sleep, so you may be unaware it is happening until you awaken with an aching jaw, facial muscles and persistent headaches. The effect on your dental health can be considerable, as bruxism increases the risk of gum recession and can chip and wear down teeth and result in jaw problems, an issue called temporomandibular joint disorder or TMD for short.
Binging on Comfort Foods
Most of us have done this as stress can make us reach for sweet treats like ice cream, biscuits and cakes that momentarily make us feel better and give us a pop of energy. But, eating too many sweet foods can increase dental plaque buildup and lead to cavities.
How We Can Help You
If life is stressful, especially if you are due for a checkup, make an appointment to see our friendly dental team today. We can gently assess your teeth, gums and jaw joints and discuss your symptoms. If we discover any dental problems, we can devise your custom treatment plan and will talk you through it step-by-step, ensuring you understand how it will help restore your dental health. Treatment for these problems is often pretty straightforward; for example, bruxism can be remedied using a custom-made night splint, a special mouthguard that you wear during sleep that prevents teeth grinding and clenching and can help you break this habit. The early signs of gum disease are often reversible with a professional dental cleaning and improved oral care at home.
A hygiene appointment is a great way to boost your dental health and your general sense of well-being, getting rid of plaque and tartar buildup and leaving you with a confident, healthy and brighter smile. We can also talk to you about caring for your teeth and gums at home, sharing tips and tricks for brushing and flossing more effectively or discussing other tools to try. Some degree of stress is almost inevitable in today’s busy environment, but taking steps to protect your smile will help you feel more in control.