How Being Stressed Out Affects Your Oral Health

We all get stressed out. Whether it’s a change in employment, raising a child, marriage, divorce, chronic illness, or a myriad of other causes, stress happens. And with the pressures of a global pandemic, more and more people are seeking help for stress-related illnesses. So it’s not all that surprising to find out that stress can greatly impact our dental health too.

Being stressed out can lead to bruxism.

If you have never heard of bruxism, you are not alone. Simply defined, bruxism is the technical term for teeth grinding. Bruxism is also a telltale sign that you might be stressed out. When we are nervous, frustrated, or angry, our bodies can have subconscious responses that we are simply unaware of, and these emotions can cause us to grind our teeth without even realizing it. Specific symptoms include:

  • Flat-looking teeth
  • Hot or cold sensitivity due to enamel loss
  • Frequent headaches
  • Tongue indentations

Bruxism isn’t something to brush under the rug. It’s essential to get your teeth grinding under control before it has a chance to affect your oral (and overall) health.

TMD is a common symptom of being stressed out.

You’ve likely heard of TMJ, though you might not know what it stands for. TMJ is an easy way to refer to the temporomandibular joint, which connects your jawbone to your skull. On the other hand, TMD (sometimes also called TMJD) refers to temporomandibular joint dysfunction. It can be caused by injury to the jaw or stress, particularly from grinding or clenching the teeth, that has affected the muscles of the head and neck. So if you are experiencing jaw pops, clicks, or aches, chances are that you are suffering from TMD. As with signs of bruxism, if you are stressed out and feel jaw pain, it’s time to make a trip to your dentist.

Stress can cause dry mouth.

We always recommend that our patients drink plenty of water. But when you are experiencing dry mouth, it seems like no matter how much fluid you take in, your mouth is always dry! Dry mouth results from a lack of saliva production and can be caused by stress and anxiety, not just dehydration.

Dry mouth causes more than just minor discomfort. We need saliva to help flush out bacteria and food particles from inside our mouths and between our teeth. When this bacteria sits in your mouth too long, it increases your risk of tooth decay, which can lead to other unwanted effects like root canals and tooth loss if left untreated. This is why it’s important to seek help for chronic dry mouth by speaking with your dentist about the right solution for you.

Decreasing stress is important for both your oral and overall health.

Poor oral health can have severe consequences on your overall health. Thus if you feel stressed or anxious, take the proper steps to decrease stress and stay healthy. Some of the most effective methods for stress reduction include the following three strategies:

1. Exercise

Exercise is a great way to lessen the impacts of stress on your body. It’s also great at helping improve your blood pressure, lowering your risk of obesity, and elevating your mood. So whether you try to squeeze in a run a few mornings a week, hit the gym after a day at the office, or take family walks after dinner, try to get 30 minutes of physical activity every day and vigorous physical exercise three to four times per week.

2. Adequate Sleep

A lack of sleep can make a bad situation that much worse. Adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night. But you don’t just need enough sleep. It is also vital to give your body a healthy sleep routine. For example, try going to bed at the same time every night. If you have insomnia or trouble falling asleep, try a warm bath or enjoy a calming cup of tea before bedtime. If you have tried a calming bedtime routine and are still having trouble sleeping, call your doctor to see what else they might recommend.

3. Personal Interests

When life gets hectic, it can be easy to set our interests aside. But we must take time to do things we enjoy even as busy parents and working professionals. Participating in activities you love is part of self-care and will positively impact your mental well-being.

Make an appointment with Ada Smile Place if being stressed out is impacting your oral health.

If you feel stressed out and suspect that your oral health is paying the price, it might be time to make an appointment with the best dentists in Ada, Oklahoma. Dr. Edwards and Dr. Burton know what to look for and provide practical, personalized recommendations to help lessen the effects. We’re here to help and look forward to seeing you.