How stress can affect your teeth

How stress can affect your teeth

How stress can affect your teeth

In todays’ busy society, lots of people are feeling and, in some cases, suffering with stress. It seems that every decade brings with it a new health concern, but one in particular seems it may be here to stay – stress!

With less and less time to complete an ever-growing workload, it is really not surprising that many people are feeling more stressed out, both at work and at home.

If you are struggling with your stress levels, it may seem normal that your doctor is monitoring your blood pressure and your physiotherapist might be keeping an eye on your ever worsening back and neck pain. But it may surprise you that stress can actually have an impact on your teeth too!

Here are the most common 5 ways in which stress can affect your mouth:

  1. Grinding your teeth
  2. This is a very common habit for a lot of people. You may be aware of grinding or clenching your teeth when in a stressful situation? However, when you are under a lot of pressure, or in a particularly stressful period in your life, you may start to grind your teeth at night. You will probably have absolutely no idea you are doing it until you wake up with pain in your jaw the next morning! Grinding your teeth can also lead to you experiencing jaw and neck pain, headaches, tooth wear and in some cases even cracked or broken teeth.

  3. TMJ issues
  4. If your grinding is really severe, it can lead to a temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJD). The only relief for this is to wear a shield at night time that will take the brunt of your grinding. Our jaws can be very forceful and wearing a soft mouth guard during the night can really help to take the brunt of this force, hopefully stopping any broken or fractured teeth. The guard can also act as a cushion for the jaw joints.

  5. Mouth Ulcers
  6. Sometimes when we are stressed, our body gets run down. Mouth ulcers often appear when this happens. Although there are many reasons for mouth ulcers to form, stress is usually at the top of the list. Mouth ulcers can be very painful, but they are also an invitation for a bacterial invasion.

  7. Increased risk of gum disease
  8. Stress weakens our immune system and when our immune system is compromised it can mean that our body struggles to fight off bacteria. This opens the door to issues such as gingivitis and gum disease.

  9. Neglecting your oral hygiene regime
  10. When we feel particularly run down it is easy to neglect our regular oral hygiene routine, especially if we have a mouth full of ulcers and an aching jaw joint due to stress-related grinding. We may also find that we are more tired and craving sugary snacks to get through the day. In short, stress is just bad news for our oral health!

What can we do to deal with stress?

When suffering with stress people will often tell us to relax, and sometimes this in itself can be stressful!

We recommend the following to help and hopefully reduce stress levels:

  1. Go on holiday (at your desk)
  2. We know that it may not always be possible to get time off work to go on holiday, but just sit for five minutes, close your eyes and visualise where you would go if you could. This can work wonders for your overall outlook.

  3. Drink plenty of water
  4. It is very important to stay hydrated, drinking plenty of water can help to reduce headaches which tend to add to you feeling even more ‘stressed-out’. Water cures most things so make sure you take a bottle with you every morning to encourage you to keep drinking throughout the day.

  5. Relax
  6. A technique called progressive muscle relaxation can be very helpful. You tense and relax each muscle in your body one at a time. You may not actually realise which muscles were tense until you focus on them. It only takes a few moments but will leave you feeling like a new person.

  7. Breathe
  8. Remember to breathe! When the day starts to get on top of you and everything starts to feel ‘too much’, take a series of deep breaths. This will help you to feel like you are back in control and has a brilliant calming effect.

  9. Smile
  10. Forcing yourself to smile moves your muscles into a position that releases natural ‘happy’ endorphins. You never know who could do with you flashing them a nice smile, it might just make their day too!

If you have any concerns about how stress may be affecting your dental health, please contact us for a chat so we can put your mind at rest!

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