Stress has been shown to negatively impact your health, but did you know that this includes your mouth, too? Poor oral health is frequently linked to stress and stress is often associated with gum disease, TMJ disorders, and tooth loss. Learn more about how to manage stress and your oral health with Dr. Roy Eskow of Bethesda Dental Implant Center of Bethesda, MD.
4 Ways Stress Affects Oral Health
Teeth grinding is commonly associated with stress, whether from your own personal environmental factors or stress inside the mouth and jaw from a dental problem. When teeth, jaw, and intricate system of muscles in the mouth and neck aren’t working properly, it creates tension. This tension can lead to headaches, facial pain, and teeth grinding.
Although the primary cause of periodontal (gum) disease is allowing the bacteria in plaque to remain on and in between your teeth. This is more likely to be ignored if you are suffering from stress. When the bacteria in our mouths isn’t removed by brushing and flossing hardens and forms tartar.
As a reaction to this bacteria-ridden tartar, our immune systems release defense cells that cause areas around the teeth to become inflamed. As our gums swell, they pull away from the teeth creating little pockets that allow more bacteria to settle in. This further strains our immune system making us even more susceptible to other illnesses.
Like teeth grinding, TMJ disorders are often linked to stress. Teeth grinding can lead to deeper problems within the jaw, causing painful chewing, headaches, or even problems with bite alignment. Stress reduction can help reduce TMJ disorder symptoms, but persistent pain may require advanced treatment from your dentist.
Stress releases hormones can cause your mouth to feel dry and a dry mouth is a fertile breeding ground for oral bacteria. These bacteria can cause gum disease if allowed to flourish. In addition, individuals in stressful environments are often less likely to engage in healthy habits such as drinking enough water and maintaining a healthy diet, which can also lead to a dry mouth.
Managing Your Oral Health When You’re Stressed
Managing stress can be difficult, and it’s easy to neglect your oral health when there are other important things going on in your life. Be sure to maintain your at-home oral hygiene regimen to keep oral bacteria at bay, and incorporate stress-relieving techniques such as walks, exercise, and eating healthy foods.
Your dentist is your ally when it comes to your oral health. Schedule an appointment with us online or call our office at (301) 200-5222 if you’re looking for help managing your oral health.