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Can Stress Affect My Teeth?

Stressed woman working at desk

Stress can come from a number of different sources—both physical and emotional. It is often talked about how stress can affect our physical and mental health, but too much negative stress can also impact our oral health as well. In fact, prolonged stress can lead to a number of oral health complications that can be prevented—if the right steps are taken.

How Stress Affects Our Jaw

Too much stress often leads to people clenching their teeth tightly. If you are experiencing jaw pain or frequent headaches, it may be because of clenched teeth. Also known as “bruxism,” jaw clenching and teeth grinding can actually weaken tooth foundation. Other symptoms of bruxism can include the wearing down of enamel, heightened sensitivity, and earaches. Although tooth clenching is not always caused by stress, if you’ve noticed a sudden increase in jaw discomfort, then it may be a possibility.  

How Stress Can Cause Tooth Decay

Although stress cannot directly cause tooth decay, stress does indirectly play a large role in our oral health. When we get stressed, some of the decisions we make can be affected. And these decisions may include the foods we eat as well as how often we brush our teeth. Under extreme stress, it can understandably become easy to forget or ignore simple routines we may have developed, such as brushing and flossing. If you find yourself “stress eating,” it is possible that you are consuming foods that are worse for your teeth, such as colas or sugary snacks. Combining a higher sugar diet while also skipping out on your oral health routine can prove to be a dangerous mix for your oral health, and lead to an increase in cavities or tooth decay. You may also begin to develop signs of gum disease if your oral health is neglected long enough. 

When under stress, it is important to maintain the routines that can prove difficult to uphold. Maintaining these routines will not only provide additional structure in your day-to-day life, but it may also help give you a small sense of accomplishment that might decrease the amount of stress you are going through.  

Additionally, stress also causes our bodies to produce less of the protective minerals that help to minimize tooth decay and remineralize our teeth, which helps to facilitate the acidic and bacteria-ridden environments that cause cavities in the first place.

How Stress Causes Gum Disease

Similar to tooth decay, it is also possible that stress might lead to gum disease for the same reasons. There are some studies that have found a correlation between an increase in stress, which in turn led to a higher risk of gum disease. If gum disease is left untreated, it can lead to more serious oral complications, such as tooth removal. 

How Stress Affects Heart Health

Numerous studies have been published that show a correlation between gum and heart health. In these studies, researchers have found bacteria that passes through the gums when teeth are not cleaned properly. This bacteria ends up near the heart, causing complications. Aside from the mental strain that stress can cause us, neglecting our teeth and oral care—because of stress—can be detrimental to our hearts as well. Thus, the importance of maintaining an oral health routine cannot be overstated. 

What To Do if Stress Affects Your Oral Health

Stress can often be a difficult thing to combat. That’s because it can sometimes lead to a cycle: You can get further stressed over being stressed to begin with. In moments where you may be feeling extra tense, remember to relax your shoulders, loosen your jaw, and breathe. Keep note of your daily routines—such as brushing your teeth—and stick with them in order to provide a sense of accomplishment which will help break you out of the cycle. Small tasks can equal a big step forward. If you are concerned that you have been neglecting your oral health, schedule an appointment with your dentist. He or she can give you a proper dental cleaning and other services, such as teeth whitening (if requested), while also providing early detection of other possible tooth issues, such as decay, cavities, or tartar buildup. 

Dental365 Can Help

When dealing with the sudden impact of stress, it is especially important to have a preventative dentistry appointment to ensure your teeth do not become compromised. Call us today at 844.365.DENTAL, or schedule an appointment with one of our highly qualified dentists.

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