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:
-Pain In Ears
-Wearing down of teeth.
-Temporo mandibular Joint (TMJ) Issues
-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:
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 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.
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.