Why Stress Affects Oral Health
Too much stress can cause serious health issues throughout the body including heart disease, gastrointestinal problems, obesity and in this case, it can affect your oral health.
Here Are Some Examples Of Stress Related Oral Health Conditions
1. Burning Mouth
Burning mouth syndrome is a dry, hot and burning feeling in your mouth.
Many things can cause this condition. Stress, anxiety, and depression may be part of the problem. Dry mouth syndrome is more common in women after menopause, so hormone changes may also be involved.
Treatment for dry mouth syndrome can include stress counseling and antidepressant medicine.
Stress-related smoking and drinking can make burning mouth worse.
2. Nail Biting
Nail biting is a stress-related habit that can be harmful to your oral health and your overall health.
Nail biting can move your teeth out of position.
It can also damage your teeth. Adding the germs from your fingernails to the germs in your mouth can lead to mouth infections.
Find better ways to reduce stress, or ask your doctor for help.
3. Teeth Grinding
Clenching or grinding (Bruxism) can cause damage to your teeth and enamel as well as headaches and soreness in the jaw. It can even cause or exacerbate TMJ pain.
As grinding often occurs during the night you may not be aware you are doing it.
Your dentist may recommend a night guard to protect your teeth from damage.
4. Gum Disease
Stress can lower your immune system and increase your risk of infection in the mouth, including gum disease.
5. Dry Mouth
Dry mouth is both a side effect of stress as well as the medicines used to treat stress and depression.
The mouth’s first line of defense against bacteria is saliva, and without it there is an increased risk of tooth decay, gum disease, and infection.
6. Canker Sores
Canker sores (white spots found on the soft tissue of the mouth) are harmless but can be painful.
They will usually go away on their own within 1-2 weeks or your dentist may prescribe a topical treatment or rinse.
7. Tooth Decay
A neglected oral health routine, unhealthy lifestyle choices and conditions such as dry mouth increases your risk of tooth decay.
Reduce your symptoms
It’s important to get to the root of the problem and figure out why you’re stressed. Once you’ve pinpointed the causes, think about how to lower your stress levels.
In the meantime, follow these steps to get relief for painful oral symptoms:
- Talk to your dentist about treatment options.
- Address teeth grinding by asking your dentist about getting a custom-fitted night guard. It can be worn at night to prevent tooth damage caused by grinding and clenching. The night guard also creates a cushion to remove stress on your aching muscles and joint tissues.
- Avoid hard or crunchy foods when you’re in pain.
- Don’t cope with tobacco and alcohol. These products can make your oral symptoms worse.
- Manage pain through gentle massage, physical therapy or pain relief medications.
- Ask about prescription medications. Anti-inflammatory drugs can help inflammation of the jaw joint. Antiviral drugs may prevent cold sores.
- Avoid the sun or use a sunscreen with at least an SPF of 30 to help reduce cold sores.