How Stress Affects Dental Health
We are all aware of the importance of oral hygiene in protecting our teeth, even if we do not always do all that we should. What most of us do not know is that stress and anxiety also affect our dental health, and the damage that may occur could be both serious and long-lasting. While this always been true, in a time when the COVID 19 pandemic is placing a great deal of tension on everyone, it is crucial not to overlook the effects stress can have on our teeth and gums.
Common Stress-Related Dental Conditions
Stress-related dental problems can take many forms. Among the most common are:
- Bruxism: The grinding or clenching of the teeth. This unconscious action can cause the enamel to wear away from the teeth besides causing other physical damage. Soreness of the jaws and headaches are other common side effects. Teeth grinding often occurs more at night when you are sleeping, so you have no idea about it.
- Gum disease: Stress can affect the functioning of your immune system, and this increases the risk of various types of infections, including gum diseases in its many forms.
- Canker Sores: These are white spots that appear on the soft tissue in the mouth. They are generally not dangerous and usually disappear on their own in a few weeks. However, they can be very painful and cause a great deal of discomfort.
- Dry mouth: Stress (and the medicines prescribed to treat it) can cause dryness of the mouth. Saliva, which is what keeps the mouth moist, is the primary defense against bacteria. If there is not enough of the saliva, the risk of tooth decay, gum disease, infections, and other dental problems increases significantly.
- Tooth decay: Stress can lead to neglecting oral health and unhealthy lifestyle choices. These are significant factors in the development of tooth decay.
- Other health issues: The mouth is where all food and drink are ingested into the body. No matter what precautions you may take, there will always be germs and bacteria present in what is consumed. The metabolic system can typically deal with this without any problems, so sickness rarely results. However, if your mouth's health is compromised, it is easier for the germs, viruses, and bacteria to find a direct route into the body and bypass the metabolism's natural defenses. That leaves you more open to all kinds of health problems.
It is important to remember that dental health is not limited to the state of the mouth, teeth, and gums. Oral health problems may lead to other health issues that could affect other parts of the body and cause all kinds of sickness and diseases.
Dental problems, especially stress-related ones, often develop slowly, so they are usually not noticed until the condition has reached an advanced stage where more medication and/or other procedures are required. Besides regular dental check-ups, if you should see or suspect that you have any stress-related dental problems, contact your dentist without delay. The earlier treatment begins, the quicker and more effective it will be.
Here at Hills Dental Group, we welcome you and would love to keep you on track with your dental check-up and care. Call 408-725-1536 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule an appointment.