How Does Stress Affect my Oral Health?

stressed employee at work

Stress is an unavoidable part of life, but how we handle stress can make the difference between good or poor oral health. Let’s take a look at some mouth problems and their relationships to stress.

Ways Stress Can Affect Oral Health

  • Teeth Grinding, Jaw Clenching & Stress - Stress may make you grind your teeth and/or clench your jaw. These actions put a high amount of pressure on your jaw joint (TMJ). Stress and worry can cause you to grind and clench, even when you’re sleeping. If you wake up with headaches or jaw soreness, you may be grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw at night.
  • Gum Disease & Stress - Studies have shown that stress affects our immune systems. Long-term stress increases your susceptibility to infections such as periodontal disease.
  • Dry Mouth & Stress - When your mouth doesn't produce enough saliva, you can develop chronic dry mouth. Dry mouth can be a result of stress, and it’s also a common side effect of many medications.

How to Improve Your Oral Health When You’re Stressed

  • Sores: Ease mouth irritation by avoiding spicy or hot foods. Don’t eat or drink anything that has a high acid content, like tomatoes or citrus products.
  • Grinding and Clenching: Your dentist may recommend a night guard. You’ll wear it when you sleep, and it helps prevent or minimize teeth grinding or jaw clenching movements. During daytime, try keeping your teeth slightly apart when you're not eating.
  • Oral Hygiene: Make it a habit to remind yourself that cleaning your teeth and eating healthy can cut down on visits to the dentist for cavities. This can be a strong motivation for regular oral hygiene. Brush at least twice a day and floss every day.
  • Poor Diet: Exercise regularly; it encourages you to eat healthier, helps to relieve stress, and boosts your energy levels. Regular workouts help lift your moods by producing “feel good” brain chemicals. Also, drink plenty of water and rinse your teeth with each sip.

Strategies to Relieve Stress and Maintain Good Oral Hygiene

  • Find relaxation techniques that help manage stress.
  • Maintain your oral hygiene techniques between dental visits.
  • Visit your dentist for regular check-ups and cleanings.
  • Stay active.
  • Get a good night’s rest every night.
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet high in fruits and vegetables.
  • Meditate to help reduce your blood pressure and decrease your negative emotions.
  • Do some type of leisure activity that you enjoy every day. Activities like nature walking, reading a book, or biking are a few good examples.

If you’d like more information on how your stress can affect your oral health, your dentist at Dental365 will be happy to answer any questions you may have. Schedule an appointment or stop by one of our convenient Dental365 offices today.

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