It is well known that stress can cause a number of health issues, such as poor nutrition and lack of sleep. Therefore, it is probably no surprise to you that stress can affect your oral health as well! Here are just a few of the ways that stress can cause damage to your teeth, gums, and jaw.
1. You may grind your teeth in your sleep.
Stress is a common cause of nighttime bruxism, or grinding your teeth in your sleep. This is your body’s way of naturally releasing stress hormones in your sleep—just as screaming in a pillow may help to do so while you’re awake. Unfortunately, though, nighttime bruxism can lead to broken teeth, decay, facial pain, headaches, and more.
2. You’re at greater risk for TMJ problems.
Clenching your jaw is a natural response to stress. However, doing so too much can lead to some painful side effects for your jaw joints and muscles. As a result, you may notice that your jaw clicks, pops, or even locks when you open and close your mouth. If this is the case, you might have a TMJ disorder.
3. You’re at greater risk for gum disease.
Stress is known to wreak havoc on your immune system, which makes you susceptible to a number of ailments—including gum disease. Gingivitis (the earliest stage of gum disease) is caused by bacteria buildup along the gum line. When your immune system is no longer fighting infection effectively, these bacteria flourish and damage the gums. In the earliest stages, you may notice your gums are inflamed or even bleeding when you floss. If this occurs, be sure to visit your dentist right away, as gum disease can be quite harmful in its later stages.
4. You’re more likely to suffer from sores.
Just as a depleted immune system can lead to infection in the gums, it can also lead to canker sores! These mouth ulcers form when your immune system is down, and can be quite painful. They make eating and speaking quite difficult as well.
5. You’re more likely to have poor oral hygiene.
Stress can lead to a number of changes in your routine. You may eat less nutritious foods or skip important steps in your dental hygiene regimen. However, while you might have a lot of tasks on your plate, it is important to still take good care of your teeth! Without a proper brushing and flossing routine, you leave your teeth and gums at risk for a variety of ailments including decay and gingivitis.
6. You may experience dry mouth.
If you’re taking medications for chronic stress, be certain to be on the look out for symptoms of dry mouth. Many stress medications indicate dry mouth as a common side effect, which causes your mouth to produce less saliva. This can be quite harmful to your oral health, as your saliva is critical in preventing tooth decay and bad breath.
If stress has begun to take its toll on your oral health, be sure to call Oak Park Dental Group right away to schedule your appointment for a routine check-up and professional cleaning.