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Chronic Stress & Your Oral Health

November 17, 2023

Filed under: Uncategorized — summitfamilydentistry @ 5:33 pm

Stressed out woman with her hand on her foreheadLife gets pretty stressful, which can affect your overall wellness and quality of life. You can experience a variety of physical and emotional symptoms, like anxiety, headaches, and stomachaches; however, chronic stress can also harm your dental health. It can lead to ongoing problems that may cause irreversible damage to your teeth and gums. Here’s how managing your stress can lead to a healthier smile

Oral Health Problems Caused by Stress

Stress can affect your mouth and body in many ways. Here are just a few complications the pressure of daily life can create for your dental health:

  • TMJ Disorders: Your temporomandibular joints (TMJ) are located just in front of your ears. They connect your lower jaw to your skull. Stress can cause tension and inflammation in the joints from clenching. This can lead to difficulty opening and closing your mouth, facial pain, headaches, and more. 
  • Bruxism: Teeth grinding goes hand in hand with high stress. It can occur during the day, but it’s more common at night. It can become a subconscious habit that damages your teeth and can cause TMJ disorders.
  • Poor Dental Hygiene: Your dental hygiene can suffer if you’re always in a rush or exhausted at the end of the day. Whether you don’t brush for 2 minutes, skip brushing before bed, or forget to floss, you will have an increased risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
  • Canker Sores: Canker sores can be caused by irritation or injuries, but they can also result from vitamin B deficiencies. However, new studies have identified stress as a common trigger. 
  • Oral Sores and Infections: Stress can cause red spots, ulcers, and white lines. They can be difficult to treat because chronic stress also affects your immune system.

Protect Your Smile and Reduce Stress

It’s important to practice stress-relieving exercises to keep your mouth and body healthy, like exercising, reading, listening to music, or taking a walk. You should also talk to your dentist about ways to protect your dental health, which may include:

  • Wearing a nightguard to safeguard your teeth from grinding and clenching.
  • TMJ therapy to stop chronic jaw pain.
  • Avoiding stimulants, like tobacco and alcohol.
  • Improving your oral hygiene habits. 
  • Prescription medications to treat oral infections, sores, or pain.
  • Choosing nutritious foods for a healthy diet.

Life is stressful enough without the worry of poor dental health. An active approach to managing stressors and committing to your oral health will protect your pearly whites. With your oral and general wellness closely connected, you’ll invest in a healthier mouth and body by reducing chronic stress.

About Dr. Dinesh Patel

Dr. Patel achieved his DDS degree from the State University of Buffalo and has regularly continued his training to provide the most current dental services. He supports the mouth and body connection through individualized treatment plans. He takes joy in making each patient’s life a little brighter through a healthy smile. Request an appointment through his website or call (814) 529-7257.

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