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Stress is a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances. Stress can arise from any situation or thought that makes you feel frustrated, angry, nervous, or anxious.

Too much stress is known to play a role in our overall health but did you know that stress can also cause issues to your smile?

Stress Induced Dental Health Issues

Poor Dental Hygiene

When a person is under a lot of stress they tend to lose focus on basic habits and this can include maintaining optimal dental hygiene. If you do not take care of your dental hygiene on a daily basis, your dental health along with your overall health will begin to suffer and consequences can develop. This is especially important if you already have an issue with periodontal disease. Neglecting any part of your dental hygiene regimen can cause your periodontal disease to worsen. Another issue that can occur from stress is changes to your nutrition. Most people under heavy stress tend to develop very unhealthy eating habits. This can include frequent snacking on greater quantities than normal of sugary foods and drinks. These dietary changes will increase the risk of tooth decay.

An excellent way to defend against stress in your life is to regularly exercise. Maintaining a regular exercise schedule can help you relieve some of that built up stress and give you an extra energy boost to fight back. Exercise will also boost your immune system which will keep you stronger and healthier over the long haul.

Teeth Grinding (also referred to as Bruxism)

A main factor for people who grind their teeth is due to stress. Bruxism or teeth grinding can occur any time of day or night but it is usually an act we are unaware we are doing. Stress is not the sole cause of bruxism but it can make it worse. Dental issues associated with bruxism can include:

-Headaches

-Pain In Ears

-Wearing down of teeth.

-Temporo mandibular Joint (TMJ) Issues

-Sensitive Teeth

-Chipped or cracked teeth

-Receding gums or teeth with notches along the gum line

Your dentist following a thorough examination may recommend a night guard to wear while you sleep to minimize the damage to your teeth. Generally, if stress is the root cause the bruxism will stop when the stressor(s) are removed.

Sores In The Oral Cavity

Mouth sores come in multiple forms. These forms can include:

-Canker sores. These are tiny ulcers with a white or grayish base and a red border.  There has been extensive debate among scientists regarding what is the root cause of canker sores. Some believe it is an immune system deficiency, bacteria, or even an underlying virus. The consensus belief is that stress can increase the risk of them appearing. Canker sores are not believed to be contagious.

Canker Sores Marielaina Perrone DDS

Canker sores generally last about a week to ten days. Spicy foods along with highly acidic foods should be avoided as they may irritate the sores. Your dentist can recommend a prescribed medicine called Debacterol. This prescription medicine is applied directly to the mouth sore and can reduce symptoms as well as thetime that the sores are present in the mouth.

-Cold sores (also called fever blisters). This type of sore is caused by the herpes simplex virus and are highly contagious. These sores are blisters that are filled with fluid that often appear on or around the lips. They are also seen under the nose or around the chin area. Emotional stress can trigger these sores to develop. Other triggers for these sores include fever, a sunburn, or skin abrasion.

Cold sores generally heal on their own in about 7 days time. Many treatments are available for relief, including over-the-counter remedies and prescription antiviral drugs. Talk to your doctor or dentist if these medications could help you. It is imperative to start treatment as soon as you feel or visually notice the cold sore forming. The sooner you begin treatment the effects of the cold sore can be decreased.

Periodontal Disease (also Known as Gum Disease)

Stress can often lead to depression. Scientific studies have shown that patients who are dealing with depression have 2 times the risk of poor treatment outcomes from periodontal disease treatment compared to those who are not depressed. Most doctors agree that learning healthy strategies to cope with bouts of depression can help reduce the risk of periodontal issues getting worse.  Also, people who are in a depressed state tend to have poor overall hygiene including dental hygiene.

Stress Conclusion

Remember, we all have events that trigger stress during our daily lives. Development of techniques to deal with stress can make a marked difference in the maintanence of our dental health as well as our overall general health. As always, see your dentist for regular dental examinations along with professional cleanings to ensure you can keep your smile looking and feeling as healthy as can be!

Reminder:

-Eat a balanced diet

-Regular Dental Visits

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.