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Stress is the body’s internal and external reaction to a change that requires a physical, mental or emotional response. Stress can come from any situation or thought that makes you feel frustrated, angry, nervous, or anxious.

Too much stress is known to be bad for us but did you know that stress can also cause issues to your dental health?

Dental Issues That Can Be Caused By Stress

Poor Dental Hygiene

When a person is under stress they tend to lose focus on basic habits and this includes being diligent with maintaining their dental hygiene. If you do not take care of your dental hygiene, your dental health as well as your general health will begin to suffer. This is especially true if you already suffer from periodontal disease as skipping any part of your dental hygiene program can worsen the periodontal disease. Another issue with being under stress is your nutrition changes. Most people dealing with stress tend to develop very unhealthy eating habits. This can include snacking on larger than normal amounts of sugary foods and drinks. These changes will increase your risk for tooth decay.

A good way to combat stress in your life is to maintain a routine of regularly exercising. Exercising regularly can help you relieve some of that stress and give you an extra energy boost. Exercise will also boost your immune system which is always a plus.

Teeth Grinding (also called Bruxism)

One of the main reasons why people grind their teeth is due to stress. Bruxism can occur day or night but it is usually a subconscious act. Stress is not the only cause of bruxism but it does make it worse. Some of the dental issues associated with bruxism include:

-Headaches

-Ear Pain

-Worn Down Teeth.

-Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Issues

-Sensitive Teeth

-Chipped or cracked teeth

-Receding gums or teeth with notches in them at the gum line

Your dentist may recommend a night guard to wear while you sleep to minimize the damage caused to your teeth. Usually, if stress is the cause the bruxism will stop when the stressor is removed.

Mouth Sores

Mouth sores come in many forms. These can include:

-Canker sores. These are small ulcers with a white or grayish base and bordered in red.  There has been vigorous debate regarding what causes canker sores. Some believe it is an immune system issue, bacteria, or even a virus. Consensus is that stress can increase the risk of them showing up. Canker sores are not known to be contagious.

Canker sores generally last about 7-10 days. Spicy foods as well as highly acidic foods should be avoided as they tend to irritate the sores. One of the best forms of relief comes from a dentist prescribed medicine called Debacterol. This medicine is applied directly to the sore and can reduce symptoms as well as the length that the sores are present.

-Cold sores (or fever blisters). These sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus and are highly contagious. Cold sores are blisters that are filled with fluid that often appear on or around the lips. They can also appear under the nose or around the chin area. Emotional stress can trigger an outbreak. Other triggers include fever, a sunburn, or skin abrasion.

Cold sores often heal on their own in about a week’s time. Treatment is available, including over-the-counter remedies and prescription antiviral drugs. Ask your doctor or dentist if either could help you. It is important to start treatment as soon as you feel or notice the cold sore forming. The sooner you start treatment the effects of the cold sore will be reduced.

Periodontal Disease

Stress can lead to depression. And studies have shown that patients who are depressed have twice the risk of a poor outcome from periodontal disease treatment compared to those who are not in a depressed state. You can not make depression or the stress disappear, of course. But most experts agrees that learning healthy coping strategies can help reduce the risk of periodontal issues getting worse.  Also, people who are depressed tend to have poor overall hygiene and that includes dental hygiene.

Conclusion

Keep in mind we all have stress during the course of our day. Developing proper techniques for dealing with that stress can make a world of difference in the maintanence of our dental health as well as our overall health. As always, see your dentist regularly for dental examinations along with professional cleanings to ensure you keep your smile as healthy as can be!

Remember, eating a balanced diet, seeing your dentist regularly, and good oral hygiene help reduce your risks of periodontal disease. Make sure you brush twice a day and floss daily.

Canker sores tend to be very unpredictable in nature and quite uncomfortable for many. Canker sores (apthous ulcers) are white sores, not blisters, that occur inside the mouth. They range in size from small dots to large coin sized ulcerations. They can be quite painful, may make eating, speaking or smiling difficult, and may take 1-2 weeks to heal. The canker sores have been studied for years, but the exact cause remains a mystery. They have been linked to a person’s genetic background, increased stress, or even minor dental trauma.  The big question remains, what should you do to avoid canker sores.

Tips To Avoid Canker Sores

-Maintain Proper Nutrition. It is important to maintain proper eating habits ensuring you are ingesting the right mix of vitamins and minerals to keep you healthy. Nutritional deficiencies have been shown to cause mouth ulcers. Researchers have shown that vitamin B12, zinc, iron, l-lysine, and folic acid are all very helpful in preventing canker sores.

-Avoid Certain Foods. If you are suffering from a canker sore you should restrict your diet. Acidic drinks (such as orange juice or lemonade) can irritate the canker sores and actually prolong the healing process. Eating chocolate is a known trigger for apthous ulcers.

-Change Oral Hygiene Products. The bubbling agent in toothpaste can be an irritant to the oral tissues. If you notice sloughing tissues, red irritated tissue, and frequent canker sores, you may want to cut out regular toothpaste. Experiment with some new dental hygiene products that are  gentler on your mouth. There are specialized canker sore toothpastes specially formulated not to irritate the mouth. These toothpastes are sodium lauryl sulfate free (SLS). Sodium lauryl sulfate is generally used in toothpastes to produce that foaming action when brushing. It is believed that removing SLS will reduce the incidence of canker sores.

-Hormones. Large jumps in hormones such as during menstrual cycle, menopause, pregnancy can trigger canker sores.

-Medications. Certain medications may trigger apthous ulcers such as Nicorandil, a medicine used in patients with angina.

 What To Do If The Canker Sores Persist

-DeBacterol. These topical canker sore treatments chemically cauterize the ulcer. The relief is instantaneous, and the healing is within days instead of weeks. Drinking milk is supposed to help decrease canker sore outbreaks.

-Drinking milk is supposed to help decrease canker sore outbreaks.

-Supplement with a multivitamin to be sure you are getting everything your body needs.

-Dental Examinations.  If you are experiencing persistent sores in one area of the mouth, call your dentist and make an appointment to get the surrounding teeth and gums checked.

 You should contact your dentist about canker sores if you have the following:

-Unusually large sores.

-Sores that are spreading.

-Sores that last 3 weeks or longer.

-Intolerable pain despite avoiding trigger foods and taking over-the-counter pain medication.

-Difficulty drinking enough fluids.

-A high fever along with the appearance of the canker sores.

Canker Sore Conclusion

Canker sores can be uncomfortable and even debilitating but there are steps that can be taken to relieve them when they occur and  in some cases avoid them completely. The frequency with which you develop sores, the size of them, and how long they last are important. Discuss all of this with your dentist so that he/she may assess whether they are typical canker sores or a more serious issue which may require further treatment and investigation.