mouth problems stress

Oral Health Problems Caused By Stress

Most of us are aware that stress can cause health issues in the body, such as high blood pressure and heart disease. But did you know that stress has a profoundly negative effect on your oral health as well? Our team at Lifetime Family Dental in Gilbert, AZ wants to help you identify and treat mouth problems caused by stress to ensure your teeth and gums remain healthy throughout your lifetime.

Stress in the Facial Muscles

We all tend to carry a lot of pent-up anxiety in our jaw area. As a result, we may unconsciously keep our jaws clenched or tightened. Even though we are unaware of this, finding stress relief can prevent the following dental complications:

  • Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ). Characterized by pain in the jaw, TMJ is usually the result of muscle clenching due to repressed emotion. As the condition progresses, it becomes more and more difficult to open the mouth.
  • Teeth grinding (bruxism). Teeth grinding is an unconscious habit, usually caused by stress. As you can imagine, it can create all kinds of problems in your mouth. Tooth decay and destruction of enamel are common. It can also become quite painful.

The Effect of Stress on the Gums

Stress can also cause gum issues, including:

  • Periodontal disease. Studies have shown gum disease is common in those who lead hectic lives. This may be because stress increases the production of cortisol in the mouth. The cortisol suppresses immunity making it harder to fight off harmful bacteria in the mouth, and it promotes inflammation, causing bleeding and pain.
  • Canker sores. Those uncomfortable and sometimes painful blisters in your mouth may be triggered by stress.

Combating Stress for the Sake of Your Mouth

Most mouth problems caused by stress can be fixed, or at least treated, by practicing good oral hygiene. But since physiological stress and dental issues are linked, the former must also be addressed. Here are a few remedies for stress you can add to your daily routine, right after flossing:

  • Mindfulness. Meditation can be difficult to get used to, but you don’t have to do an hour-long meditation. Even one as small as five minutes is effective. The point is to anchor yourself in the present and find your breath.
  • Exercise. The release of endorphins is a powerful way to alleviate stress.
  • Healthy eating. Take note of what foods make your body feel full, but not too heavy. The right diet can significantly help you manage stress.
  • Essential oils. You may find it helpful to surround yourself with calming, soothing scents.

The Importance of Smiling

Now that we’ve established that stress and oral health issues are linked, one of the healthiest ways to tackle both is simply to smile. Smiling naturally lifts the mood and increases endorphins. In addition, laughter is shown to release relaxing neurotransmitters and raise antibody levels. So de-stress by doing things that make you happy! We’re not saying it’s a cure-all, but it can’t hurt to try smiling a little more.

Compassionate Dental Care in Gilbert

At Lifetime Family Dental, we’re here for you. Occasional stress is a normal part of the human experience, but when it interferes with everyday life, it can become debilitating and wreak havoc on your oral and overall health. If dental anxiety adds to your stress level, you can rest assured your best interests and comfort are our top priorities. We will do everything we can to ensure your experience with us is a good one. Give us a call to schedule an appointment today with our friendly team.

Image by Jan Vašek on Pixabay.