Can Stress Damage Oral Health?

Can Stress Damage Oral Health?

Can Stress Damage Oral Health?

Stress can affect our lives in many ways. It can take a toll on your health, career, and personal relationships. Stress can also affect your oral health. If you are stressed, you may be more likely to neglect your teeth and gums. This can increase your risk of tooth decay or gum disease.

Stress and Oral Health

When you experience severe or chronic stress, your body releases hormones that trigger tense muscles. In some cases, this tension may manifest as teeth clenching and grinding. When your teeth are constantly clenched, they can become worn down over time. In addition to causing jaw pain, tooth erosion can also cause sensitivity. Pain from sensitive teeth can also increase your risk of bruxism.

The link between stress and oral health are many. When stressed, the body releases the hormone cortisol, which can increase inflammation throughout the body. People with gum disease and other inflammatory diseases typically have higher cortisol levels than people without those diseases. Studies have linked untreated, periodontal disease to an increased risk for heart disease and other chronic conditions. Other research has found that stress can make it more difficult for your body to fight infections and recover from illness.

For many patients, keeping up with regular preventive care visits may be enough to handle the effects of stress on their bodies. However, dentists can take additional steps to help patients with chronic stress manage their symptoms. Dentists may recommend prescription mouth guards or night guards for patients with severe bruxism, for example. For those suffering from dry mouth as a result of medications or systemic conditions, a dentist may prescribe oral rinses to rehydrate the mouth.

In addition to recommending specific treatments to manage the effects of stress on a patient's oral health, dentists can also help patients learn to recognize their symptoms and find ways to manage their stress more effectively. 

Ways to Combat Stress

To combat the effects of stress on your oral health, try these relaxation techniques. Taking time to relax can help your mind and body relax. Some anxiety-reducing activities you can try include:

  • Taking a walk outside
  • Talking to a friend on the phone
  • Meditating for 10 minutes twice a day
  • Getting a massage
  • Reading a book

If you notice that you clench or grind your teeth at night, talk to your dentist about a custom-fitted nightguard. This oral appliance can relieve pressure on the jaw and reduce the risk of wearing down your teeth while you sleep. 

Please reach out to our dental practice in Walnut Creek, CA, to have a consultation with our Dentist in Walnut Creek, CA. You can call us at (925) 937-2273 or schedule an online consultation, and we'll guide you further.

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