How Stress May Affect Your Oral Health

Posted by Dr. Soto Mar 16, 2018

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Oral health means more than just shiny white teeth. Oral health also includes your gums, jaw, and surrounding tissues. It’s well known that stress can affect overall health, but did you know that stress can directly affect your oral health, too? 

The link between your body, stress, and your oral health 

Your oral health is part of your overall health, and can be directly linked to stress, according to an article written by researchers from the University of Toronto and published online in Oral Health. They explain that certain diseases like diabetes and heart disease that can be made worse by stress, and those diseases can then harm oral health.

Stress can also directly affect your oral health

First, stress may make you cope in unhealthy ways. Alcohol abuse and substance abuse (including tobacco products), unhealthy diet, and lack of exercise all can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. When you feel stressed, you may be more likely to forget about, or just skip regular brushing and flossing. And of course, stress makes you more likely to skip regular dental check-ups.

Second, stress makes your body more susceptible to infections and disease, especially in your mouth. Hormonal changes such as adrenaline surges can also make you more vulnerable to disease. Our bodies strive for balance, and when stress throws balance off kilter, it can hurt oral health.

What counts as stress?

Many different things cause us to feel stressed; sometimes it may be difficult to put your finger on exactly what’s causing it. Chronic disease, family problems, and financial worries all commonly cause us to feel stress. Some people may feel stress more than others. It helps to stay as healthy and active as you can, reach out to friends and family to share your feelings. Keeping stress bottled up inside can make it harder to stay healthy.

Oral health conditions related to stress

Stress can add to existing problems and cause new problems, too. Here are a few things to look out for:

Grinding your teeth (bruxism). Teeth grinding wears down your teeth and it causes jaw pain. You may not even be aware that you grind your teeth. That’s because it usually happens while you are asleep, or at least very sleepy.

Dry mouth. Stress can dry out your mouth, as can some medications. It’s important to treat dry mouth because a lack of saliva makes you more vulnerable to oral infections and tooth decay.

Gum disease. Imbalance in your body as a result of stress can also make your gums more vulnerable to infection and disease.

Tooth problems. Stress makes it hard to stick to your dental care routine. Lack of proper dental hygiene and stress-related lifestyle issues such as lack of exercise and poor diet, on top of dry mouth can lead to tooth decay.

What you can do

If you are feeling stressed or if you have any questions about how stress might be affecting your oral health, contact your Dr. Ernie Soto in Plantatio, FL.

Even if your stress is related to the thought of dental visits, it’s good to know that Dr. Ernie Soto specializes in pain-free dentistry. If you are interested in getting your questions answered and for more information about stress and your oral health, feel free to give us a call at (954) 368-6264 or request an appointment online.

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