How Stress May Affect Your Oral Health

Posted by RIVERMARK DENTAL on Nov 11 2022, 12:11 AM

Stress is a normal part of everyone’s life and a necessary emotion. But chronic, excessive stress can have a negative impact on your mental and physical health. It has been linked to high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and more.

Many common daily stressors can cause or exacerbate oral health problems, such as grinding your teeth while sleeping.

Physical Side Effects of Stress

The human body responds to stressful situations by releasing stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline into the system. These hormones cause a number of physical side effects, including faster heart rate, higher blood pressure, sweating, and muscle tension. While these symptoms may go away once the situation is resolved, the lingering effects of these hormones can cause real damage to your oral health.

Psychological Side Effects of Stress

When you’re stressed, your body releases chemicals that can make you physically ill. But did you know that these chemicals can also have a negative impact on your oral health? Here’s how it all works:

  • When you’re under a lot of stress, you’re more likely to grind your teeth and clench your jaw. These involuntary movements can cause damage to your teeth and enamel.
  • Stress can also cause you to develop bruxism. This condition can lead to severe wear, cracks, chips, and other damage to your teeth. It can also cause pain and discomfort in your jaw. If left untreated, bruxism can even lead to tooth loss.
  • Research suggests that stress and anxiety may also contribute to a lack of saliva. This lack of saliva allows oral bacteria to thrive in your mouth, which may lead to tooth decay and gum disease.
  • The reduction in saliva production can also lead to bad breath.
  • If you’re suffering from extreme stress and/or anxiety, you may be at higher risk for oral cancer or gum disease.

Manage Your Stress

The good news is that you can reduce stress in your life, as well as improve your dental health. Many people find that meditation and yoga are helpful for reducing stress and tension in the head and neck area. Other calming activities include listening to music or taking your dog for a walk. Even practicing slow breathing exercises can be beneficial. And always remember to seek professional help from your doctor if you’re feeling severely anxious or depressed.

If you grind your teeth because of stress, we have good news! There are some things you can do to relieve stress and lessen the likelihood that you’ll grind your teeth. Try some relaxation techniques like meditation, yoga, or even watching your favorite TV show with a loved one in the evening before you go to bed. If you don’t think that you can sleep without grinding your teeth, try wearing a mouthguard to bed to protect your teeth from damage. 

Rivermark Dental at Santa Clara is happy to educate and provide exceptional dental treatments to the community. Please schedule an appointment online or call us at 408-988-7788 to have a consultation with our dentist, and we will be happy to assist you further.

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