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Stress & Oral Health

added on: January 11, 2019

woman with stressEven though the craziness of the holidays is behind us, it doesn’t necessarily mean our stress levels have decreased. Everyday life can certainly cause anxiety and contribute to more stress. As many people know, stress can impact our health and overall well-being, but did you know stress can also contribute to oral health problems? Today, the team at our Tuscaloosa dental office will cover some ways your oral health may be affected by stress.

Increased Jaw Pain

When we’re overly stressed, our bodies respond in different ways. Sometimes we aren’t even aware of how our bodies are reacting. One common side effect of high stress that can go unnoticed is tooth clenching and grinding. When we continuously grind or clench, we place unnatural, increased force on our teeth and our jaw joints. Not only can this cause teeth to break or chip, but it can also increase jaw pain. If left untreated and clenching and grinding continues, you could develop TMD (also known as TMJ).

Gum Disease

Gum disease is often caused by poor dental hygiene, but there are other factors that can put you more at risk for developing it. Stress just so happens to be one of those things. Studies show a positive link between prolonged exposure to high levels of stress and a greater risk for gum disease. If not treated promptly by your dentist in Tuscaloosa, gum disease can contribute to concerns throughout the body such as heart disease and tooth loss.

Canker Sores

These annoying and often painful sores can seem to pop up out of nowhere, and the truth is nobody truly knows what causes them. However, research has concluded that canker sores seem to have some sort of correlation with both certain foods and also high stress. Unlike cold sores, canker sores aren’t contagious, just annoying, and should go away on their own.

Relax & Protect

The best way to protect your oral health against the damaging effects of stress is to find ways to relax and lower stress levels. Some healthy relaxation methods include:

  • Eating. Giving your body the nutrients it needs to function properly can help fight off stress. Balance your diet with fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
  • Sleeping. Many Americans don’t get enough sleep regularly, and when we’re tired our bodies aren’t able to adapt and overcome stressful situations as easily. Try to get the recommended 7-9 hours of shut-eye every night.
  • Moving. Exercising helps our bodies release more endorphins, serotonin, dopamine, and testosterone, all of which help make us feel happy and good and lower stress. Go for a walk, hop on a treadmill, or take a yoga class.

As you embark on a new year, make a commitment to yourself to keep stress low. Your body and your mouth will thank you.