You often hear from plenty of sources that stress is bad for your health. As frustrating as it can be to hear, especially when you’re already stressed, the dangers are real. Although it can be hard to think of yourself when you’re stressed about something, that’s where your focus should be the most. Dental professionals see evidence of stress in people’s mouths all the time. Unfortunately, many problems you have with your oral health could be stress-related.
Although your oral health may not be your first concern when you’re stressed out, these problems can build on top of each other and worsen over time, leading to even more stress. Knowing what you’re going through can help you identify when stress has become a serious hindrance and allow you to break this vicious cycle before it worsens. This article will explain how too much stress can affect your oral health so that you know what to look for should life start to become a little more difficult each day.
Stressed Teeth Grinding
A common response to external stress is the unconscious grinding of your teeth. Maybe you’ve even caught yourself doing it a few times and tried to stop it on your own. Unfortunately, stress can get to you even when you don’t realize it. Bruxism, the more scientific term for teeth grinding, isn’t always something you do knowingly. Additionally, it often happens in your sleep. Grinding your teeth while awake or asleep could spell serious trouble for your oral health. The enamel of your teeth may be tough, but repeatedly grinding your teeth because of stress can wear them down over time and expose your teeth to even more damage. Take notice if you wake up with a sore jaw or sore teeth, as it could be a sign of bruxism.
Jaw Muscle Tension
Tension in your jaw is another common side effect of feeling too much stress. Your muscles tense and contract in an effort to protect you from pain and potential injury. However, stress causes muscles to tense even when nothing physical threatens you. Clenching your jaw or grinding your teeth can lead to the development of TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorder. This can be an extremely painful disorder that causes your jaw to click or pop as it moves. Removing excess stress can help you keep your muscles relaxed and alleviate this disorder over time.
Gum Disease Risks
Part of how too much stress affects your oral health has to do with your body’s entire immune system. It’s well-known that stress can reduce the effectiveness of your body’s immune system, and this can have serious consequences for your oral health as well. Bacteria in your mouth that your immune system normally has no problem dealing with an attack suddenly when stress has made it weaker. Gum disease is a common result of this happening. Even if your stress makes you feel like doing anything but taking care of yourself, flossing and taking care of your gums is essential when you have a lot of stress on your mind.
Mouth Sore Development
It’s fairly likely that you’ve already experienced a canker sore in your mouth before. Also known as mouth ulcers, these sores can be a massive nuisance as they make it more difficult and more painful to do basic things, like chew food or speak at a normal rate. If your immune system is already weaker because of excessive amounts of stress, your risk of developing these mouth sores is higher than ever. Mouth sores will go away with time, and there are remedies that can help you deal with them, but pay close attention if you start seeing them pop up frequently. This could indicate that you’re holding onto a lot of stress that is harming your body without you realizing it.
While this article has talked a lot about the physical responses to stress that your body might go through, the mental side of health is just as important. A common response to stress in a person’s life is neglecting themselves on an emotional and physical level. People often begin to neglect taking care of their bodies when they feel stressed out. For example, many people who feel a lot of stress in their lives forego regularly brushing their teeth because it feels like an added bit of hassle or annoyance that they can’t handle at the moment. This will harm your overall oral health in the long run, so try to stay on track with your oral hygiene, even when stress gets the better of you.
Dry Mouth Issues
Sometimes you take the saliva in your mouth for granted, given how many important functions it has. Protecting tooth enamel, eliminating food particles, and killing bacteria are some of its most useful functions. Stress can sometimes show itself by reducing the amount of saliva that your body produces. This can be a serious issue over time as it allows more bacteria to fester and more plaque to build up on your teeth. Common unhealthy responses to stress, such as tobacco and alcohol consumption, medications can exacerbate this problem as well, damaging your oral health even more.
Nail-biting is an all-too-common response to stress. Unfortunately, it can harm your teeth if you do it too much. If you’re a chronic nail-biter, you risk a lot every time you go to chew on your nails. Biting your nails repeatedly with a lot of force can shift their position in your mouth and damage the teeth. You can also move a lot of germs to your mouth if you bite your nails often. Bacteria and viruses often find their way beneath your nails, and you can easily transfer them to your mouth when you unconsciously bite your nails.
If you want to keep your oral health in good condition for the long haul, you’ll need an advanced dentistry and implant center to handle the most important procedures. The Engel Dental Center has qualified professionals available to help you through any oral health issue you want to take care of. Give us a call today to start protecting your teeth for many years to come.