When we have so much going on in our busy lives, it can be difficult to manage our stress! However, there are a number of reasons stress management should be a top priority. Stress does not only have psychological effects, but it can also have a significant impact on your health—including your oral health. Here are just a few reasons why you should begin prioritizing your health and managing your stress.
1. Stress increases your risk for gum disease.
Stress can deplete your immune system—your body’s natural defense mechanism against disease and infection. This can be particularly troublesome when it comes to your oral health. When your immune system is worn down by stress, the harmful bacteria in your mouth seize the opportunity to wreak havoc on your gums. Ultimately, this causes an infection of the gums known as gingivitis. Gingivitis, in its earliest stages, is easy to manage. However, if it goes untreated, it can progress to gum disease—a very serious oral health condition. Therefore, if you’ve been stressed lately, be sure to take extra care of your gums by flossing and maintaining a solid dental hygiene routine. If your gums bleed when you floss, make sure you visit your dentist straight away.
2. Stress can lead to teeth grinding.
Do you ever notice yourself clenching your teeth when you’re stressed out? While you may not realize it, you may be one of the many people that grind your teeth in your sleep as well. Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, is commonly associated with stress and most often occurs during your sleep. This can be quite problematic for your oral health—particularly your teeth and jawbone. Nighttime teeth grinders can wear down their dental enamel and cause a lot of damage. It can also cause TMJ syndrome, which is characterized by pain in the jaw and face. Ultimately, if you wake up in the morning with a sore jaw, you could be grinding your teeth as a result of stress.
3. Stress can cause mouth sores.
Have you ever had a canker sore or mouth ulcer? These can be exceptionally painful, and make it very difficult to speak and chew. Mouth sores most often occur as a result of a depleted immune system. This is why they most often crop up during times of stress. Thankfully, these painful sores often go away on their own after some time. However, if you get these often, make sure to take note of what your body is trying to tell you! You may be enduring too much day-to-day stress.
4. People with chronic stress are more prone to tooth decay.
There are a couple reasons why stress and tooth decay go hand-in-hand. For starters, people tend to make poor choices regarding their health during times of stress. This includes eating unhealthy foods—particularly starchy and sugary foods that often lead to tooth decay—and paying less attention to your hygiene routines. Both of these habits can make you more prone to cavities in the long run. Those who take medications for chronic stress are also often more at risk for dry mouth. This oral health issue inhibits your saliva production, which is an important line of defense against bacteria that cause tooth decay. Unfortunately, all of these issues combined could mean more cavities down the road.
If you’re dealing with oral health issues as a result of stress, we can help! Call Olympia Fields Dental Associates today to schedule your appointment.