What Is the Impact of Stress on Your Oral Health?
What Is Stress and What Cause It?
It is a physiological and psychological response to a perceived threat or pressuring situation. Technically, stress is a natural part of how a human body fights or flights when triggered by factors such as:
- Job pressure, long hours, difficult coworkers, and challenging tasks at work
- Financial problems revolving around debt, paying bills, and making ends meet
- Relationship problems with family, friends, or romantic partners
- Illness, chronic pain, medical issues, or the fear of getting sick or being diagnosed with a severe condition
- Major life events such as relocating, getting married, having a child, or experiencing a loss of a loved one
- Time pressures can make you feel like there is not enough time to get everything done.
- The longing and pressure to fit in with peers, meet societal expectations or perform well in social situations.
- Traumatic events, such as abuse, violence, or natural disasters, lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other stress-related disorders.
- Environmental factors like noise, pollution, and strong light
How Can You Know You Are Stressed?
Stress can manifest in many ways, including physical symptoms such as muscle tension, headaches, and fatigue. Other people experience emotional symptoms instead, such as anxiety, irritability, and depression.
Does Stress Really Affect Your Oral Health?
One of the lifestyle recommendations a dentist in a dental clinic in Rutherford is likely to recommend for your oral health is stress management. If you do not manage your stress level, your oral health will suffer in some of the following ways:
- Tooth fractures: Stress often causes people to clench their jaw or grind their teeth, especially during sleep. The effects of teeth grinding and clenching are evident in various ways, including how they can cause wear and tear on the teeth, leading to chips, cracks, and breakages. Further, you can suffer jaw problems due to excessive pressure during teeth grinding and clenching.
- Gum disease: Heightened stress levels for prolonged periods can weaken the immune system, making it harder for your body to fight infections like gum disease. Besides, did you know that stress can also increase inflammation in the body, exacerbating gum disease?
- Dry mouth: Stress may cause your body to produce less saliva, leading to a dry mouth. A dry mouth hurts your oral health since saliva helps wash away bacteria and food particles from the teeth and gums. Further, saliva neutralizes the acidity in the mouth, lowering the risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
- Canker sores: Stress can trigger the development of painful mouth sores in the oral cavity.
- Poor oral hygiene: People under intense stress often neglect their oral hygiene, such as skipping brushing and flossing or missing dental appointments. Neglecting your oral hygiene long enough leads to plaque and tartar buildup, developing many dental problems like tooth cavities, gum disease, and bad breath.
- Poor oral habits: Stress and anxiety are closely associated with developing bad habits like biting fingernails. Besides, other lifestyle choices like smoking and drinking alcohol can point back to increased stress levels. These habits contribute to tremendous oral health deterioration over time.
Tips for Managing Street to Improve Oral Health
Once a dentist near you identifies stress as the leading cause of your deteriorating oral health, (s)he can determine remedies and tips to keep your dental health at its best. First, you must manage your stress levels through the following techniques:
- Exercise regularly: Physical activity, even if it is just a short walk or yoga session, can help alleviate stress and promote relaxation.
- Get enough sleep: Lack of sleep can increase stress levels. Any dentist near you will tell you to aim for about 7-8 hours of sleep each night. While you may not notice it directly lowers your stress levels, it contributes greatly to relaxation, calmness, and boosting overall health.
- Practice relaxation techniques: Your physician can recommend various approaches, including deep breathing exercises and meditation. Regularly employing these strategies can help reduce stress levels and promote overall well-being.
- Seek professional help: Sometimes, all you need is some extra help from a therapist or counselor to help you learn new and healthy coping mechanisms and strategies for managing stress, anxiety, depression, and any other underlying mental conditions.
- Maintain a healthy diet: Eating a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables every day is a crucial aspect we recommend at Tailor-Made Smiles to help reduce inflammation and promote good oral health.