Stress isn’t just a mental burden. It can take a toll on your entire body. This means that it can also affect your oral health. From teeth grinding to gum disease, the effects of stress on your mouth can be huge. If you understand the relationship between stress and your oral health, you can avoid many issues. At the very least, you can identify issues and talk to your dentist.
The Stress-Oral Health Connection
Stress can affect much more than your mind. In fact, it can trigger physiological responses that may manifest in other parts of the body. Stress can cause muscle tension, a damaged immune system, and hypertension. Additionally, stress can damage your oral health. You may not even notice that stress is damaging your oral health right away. It can make these issues easy to overlook. Therefore, you should know what issues influence your dental health.
Teeth Grinding and Clenching
When people are stressed, they can unconsciously grind or clench their teeth. The official name for this condition is bruxism. Grinding your teeth can wear down your tooth enamel over time. Additionally, it can increase your chances of chipping or breaking a tooth. You may also feel more tooth sensitivity.
Grinding your teeth increases the amount of pressure on your jaw. Those who grind their teeth are more likely to feel tension or pain in their jaw or facial muscles. It can also lead to dysfunction of the jaw joint—a condition called TMJ or temporomandibular joint disorder.
Jaw Pain and TMJ Disorders
Having stress can lead to stress-induced muscle tension. This can contribute to TMJ disorders. Patients with TMJ often have jaw pain and headaches from muscle tension. Additionally, you may have difficulty opening and closing your mouth. TMJ can interrupt your daily life by making it hard to chew or speak.
Gum disease is a condition that affects the soft tissues of the gums. Typically, gum disease begins as a result of poor oral hygiene. When plaque builds along the gum line, it can cause irritation. However, stress can also be a factor in developing gum disease. Stress can trigger inflammation. This can raise your risk for gum disease and slow down the healing process.
Untreated gum disease can lead to major damage to your oral health. The early stages of gum disease—gingivitis—can cause bleeding gums and inflammation. However, it can lead to gum recession and tooth loss without prompt treatment.
Neglected Oral Care
While stress can damage your immune system and mess with your hormones, it may cause you to neglect your oral care. During stressful times, your oral care routine might take a backseat. If you have existing issues, this can exacerbate them.
Therefore, you should be mindful of your daily routine. Maintain a consistent oral hygiene routine even when stressed. This can help prevent serious complications.