Don’t let stress become a pain in the mouth. While your dentist can’t make your stress go away, there is a treatment to help ease the effects of stress on your oral health. Stress has increasingly become a common part of our lives. According to Statistics Canada, 22.7 percent or 6.4 million people described they suffer from “quite a bit or extremely stressful” days.
People are conscious of the harmful effects stress can have on our bodies – from muscle tension, anxiety, stomach and digestive problems to high blood pressure and cholesterol. However, many of us may overlook how stress takes a toll on our oral health. If you really want to know how much stress impacts Canadians, just ask a dentist!
Our mouths can be just as affected by stress as the rest of our bodies. This can have real consequences for our oral and overall health. People may change their diets when stressed by consuming more sugar and carbohydrate foods or drink more coffee, energy drinks, sodas or pops. This not only raises the risk of tooth decay, but the additional acid contributes to the erosion of tooth enamel. Furthermore, effects of stress also cause people to neglect their oral health care routines or miss dental appointments.
The signs and symptoms of chronic stress can be subtle; you may not be aware of its effects until it’s too late. Dentists are the first line of defense against the effects stress can have on your health. Here are the most familiar signs and common conditions that can develop with increased stress:
Also known as teeth grinding, most people are not even aware they are doing it. Clenching your jaw and grinding your teeth usually occurs while you’re sleeping. Signs and symptoms include flattened or chipped teeth, worn enamel, damage to your tongue or inside the cheek, jaw or face soreness, and temple headaches. If left untreated over a long period of time bruxism can cause permanent damage.
Many people when stressed are fixated with the problems or triggers of stress, instead of taking proper care of themselves. Not brushing or flossing regularly causes poor oral hygiene and increased tooth decay. Research has shown that stress affects our immune systems, increasing our susceptibility to infections, including the bacteria that causes gum disease. Gingival tissues can show signs of inflammation that could be stress related – which can lead to chronic, painful lesions on the membrane of the mouth.
Dry mouth can be caused by stress, and can also be a side-effect from medication to treat anxiety or depression. Saliva is vital to keep our mouths moist, wash away food and neutralize the acids that are produced by plaque. Without enough saliva, your mouth’s protection against plaque is weakened. This can lead to tooth decay, gum disease and a greater risk for contracting fungal or viral infections.
Although these white spots that appear on the soft tissues in your mouth are harmless, they can be quite painful. They usually will go away on their own, but if they persist longer than 2 weeks, your dentist can prescribe medication or mouthwash to reduce the pain and inflammation.
There are many triggers to stress, such as financial and employment pressures that are prevalent in our daily lives. Whatever the cause, it is important to identify your stressors so you can learn to deal with them effectively. It’s especially important to have regular dental checkups, so we can look for these issues during your examination.
At Ralhan Dental, we can properly diagnose and treat stress-related oral health problems to ensure your health and overall well-being is well taken care of. Book your appointment today!