Nothing good comes out from stress. With the growing health concerns due to the COVID-19 pandemic, chronic stress, and anxiety can make you more susceptible to more health risks. Not to mention the silent ways stress affects your teeth, gums, and overall oral health.
We all react to stress differently. However, our body all works the same by releasing a flood of stress hormones when we face a threatening situation. The stress hormones push other parts of the body to store fat for later use and keeps the body in high alert.
Stress also weakens the immune system and triggers our brain to seek comfort causing sudden cravings. That is the reason why some people turn to comfort foods and unhealthy habits like drinking and smoking to feel better. These damaging habits developed over time, and the added tension to your body during stress put your oral health at risk.
The effects of stress on your oral health starts unconsciously. Not until you feel pain or see damages in your teeth that you’ll realize the negative implications of stress in your oral health.
Early detection of your body responses during distress can still save your teeth, gums, and jaws. Check if you’re having signs of the following oral health conditions:
Our body has its defense systems that we don’t usually notice. Muscle tension is a reflex reaction of the body against stress to guard it against injury and pain. If you’re experiencing chronic stress, the constant muscle tension in your jaws can lead to painful tight jaws or the TMJD.
TMJD or Temporomandibular joint dysfunction is a condition that involves pain or difficulty in moving your jaws. Symptoms of this dental condition include:
Another case linked to the tightening of jaws is teeth grinding. Bruxism is the habit of grinding your teeth when you’re anxious and stressed. With a preoccupied mind during stressful times, some people don’t even notice that they’re grinding their teeth.
The constant friction in your upper and lower teeth may cause the tooth enamel to wear down and strain your jaws. Some people often grind their teeth while sleeping. The following symptoms may include:
Saliva is our mouth’s best friend. It keeps the teeth moist, removes food particles from our teeth, and has components that fight bacteria. However, stress affects your oral health by its adverse effects on your nervous system that causes salivary glands to stop producing enough saliva for your mouth.
It’s common to misunderstand this condition as a sign of dehydration. Consult your symptoms with a dentist to get an accurate diagnosis.
A weak immune system is one of the most damaging effects of stress. A compromised immune system makes it hard for the body to fight infections and increases your risk of having gum diseases.
The high level of stress hormone cortisol triggers the production of proteins in the gums that cause inflammation leading to a higher risk of periodontal disease.
Dealing with a lot of stress and anxiety fixates our attention to our problems. Thus, it becomes easier to skip self-care. Mood-boosting foods that are high in sugar, carbs and caffeine becomes our instant refuge to feel better.
We may get the ‘instant’ comfort of skipping the healthy routine, but the negative consequences can last due to the damages done to our health. A constant poor diet plus poor dental hygiene is the recipe for oral health issues down the line like carries, plaque buildup, and even tooth loss.
Stress is inevitable. We can only manage it the best we can to protect ourselves from its damaging effects on our health.
If you feel like you have one of the dental conditions above, Dr. Roy Jennings Dentistry provides dental care services that can help you maintain your oral health while under stress.