Stress is a physical and emotional response to events that cause you to feel pressure or tension. These stressors can be positive or negative and can include anything from work-related deadlines to an upcoming wedding.
While a certain amount of stress is normal and even beneficial at times, chronic stress can take a serious toll on your physical and mental health. Some research suggests that oral health may be affected by elevated levels of stress as well.
When the body is under stress, it releases hormones that signal the adrenal glands to release adrenaline and cortisol into the bloodstream. This sudden surge of these stress hormones can make you feel more anxious and alert for a short time, but prolonged periods can cause both mental and physical problems.
For example, constant exposure to stress hormones can weaken your immune system and make you more susceptible to infection, illness, and colds. You may also notice more sleep disturbances, such as insomnia. Chronic stress has also been linked to an increased risk of heart attack and other cardiovascular issues over time.
First, individuals who are stressed out may neglect their oral hygiene routines because they are too overwhelmed to keep up with them as usual. This can lead to tooth decay because plaque buildup continues on your teeth without routine brushing and flossing. Additionally, poor oral health can also cause you to feel even more stressed, creating a vicious cycle. You should also cut down on sugary snacks and beverages to keep your smile healthy and prevent decay.
For chronic stress, your mouth is a haven for bacteria and other germs. That’s because when you’re stressed, you’re likely to let your oral health routine slide—skipping daily brushings and regular flossing sessions. This makes it easy for plaque buildup on your teeth. Plaque is a major cause of gum disease that can ultimately lead to tooth loss. That’s why it’s important to maintain good oral health habits while managing stress levels.
In addition, if you’re feeling stressed, you may be more likely to clench your jaw or grind your teeth at night. Bruxism (tooth grinding) can cause problems with your teeth, such as tooth enamel loss, sensitivity, and pain. Even if you’re only clenching your jaw or grinding your teeth once a night, this can lead to long-term issues if left untreated. That’s why it’s important to talk to your dentist about ways to manage your stress and bruxism.
At some practices, the dentist may recommend stress-reducing therapies like meditation or yoga to help patients manage their stress levels. At others, dentists may recommend non-invasive treatments like Botox® injections to alleviate the symptoms of TMJ disorder. Talk to your dentist about your options for reducing the effects of stress on your health.
We request you schedule a consultation with our team of dental experts to get all your oral concerns addressed at the earliest. Please call us at (602) 237-7878 or reach out through online consultation, and we’ll be happy to help.