For many, these are increasingly stressful times. Between the constantly tense news cycle, continued dangers of COVID-19 and current unemployment rate, life can at times seems overwhelming. Despite this, it is incredibly important to remember to find ways throughout the day to destress. Stress can take a serious toll on your health and affect many aspects of a person, including their teeth. Here at Advanced Dental Arts of Tampa, Wesley Chapel, Lakeland, Citrus Park and New Port Richey, we want you to be aware of the affect stress can have on your teeth so that you can manage it. Some of the most prominent affects from stress include:
- Teeth Grinding
- Canker Sores
- Gum Disease
- TMJ Syndrome
Though there are many things that can cause a person to grind their teeth, either throughout the day or in their sleep, stress is one of the major triggers. When stressed, many pick up the habit of sliding their teeth back and forth over each other. Though on a surface level this may not seem like a serious condition, it can cause damage to your teeth, along with many other complications. Teeth grinding can lead to:
- Sleep disorders
- Jaw pain
- Abnormal tooth wear
- Broken or chipped teeth
If you find yourself grinding your teeth from stress, make an appointment to come see us so that we can fix this issue.
Stress and anxiety can also cause canker sores in your mouth. Canker sores are red (sometimes white), painful, open sores on the inside of your mouth and gums. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic have found the following possible causes for canker sores:
- Minor mouth injuries
- Brushing too hard
- Sports accidents
- Accidental cheek bites
- Products (toothpastes or mouthwashes) that contain sodium lauryl sulfate
- Food sensitivities (such as chocolate, strawberries, coffee, cheese, nuts, eggs, and/or spicy and acidic foods)
- Vitamin B-12, zinc, folate (folic acid) or iron deficiencies
- Allergic responses to certain mouth bacteria
- Emotional stress
Though there are clearly many causes for canker sores and it is hard to pinpoint exactly why you have this ailment, limiting the stress in your life as well as making a visit to your dentist may prove helpful.
Researchers at Tufts University are studying the link between gum disease and stress. They have found that when a person is under a significant amount of stress, their body is less able to manufacture immune cells to protect against bacteria. Under stress, a person’s immune system is also compromised. The Academy of General Dentistry says: “Stress affects the immune system, which fights against the bacteria that causes periodontal disease, making a person more prone to gum infection.”
Stress and anxiety can also play a role in causing Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ). When a person is stressed, they have a tendency to overuse of jaw muscles and can begin grinding teeth, as stated above. If left untreated for long enough, this can turn into TMJ. In some cases, the pain and symptoms associated with this disorder are temporary, but at times surgery is required to correct the effects.
Another way that stress can effect your teeth is when a person stops practicing self-care. When stressed, the last thing on many people’s mind is keeping up with their personal hygiene, but brushing and flossing are a crucial part of your daily routine. Make sure that even when stressed, you are keeping your mouth clean.
De-stressing may be easier said than done, but it is important to actively work to eliminate unnecessary stress in your life. Harvard Medical School put together a list of some effective methods to de-stress for your health and wellbeing:
- Stay positive
- Unplug from social media
- Try an activity like taking a bath, reading a book, or spending time on a hobby.
If you are feeling stressed, try one of these methods to relax. If you are experiencing one of the conditions previously mentioned, make an appointment to come see us at our Tampa, Wesley Chapel, Lakeland, Citrus Park, or New Port Richey. And don’t forget, regular cleanings are an important part of keeping up with your consistent oral health regimen!