How Stress Can Affect Your Oral Health

03-10-2015_stress-oral-health

Most patients are aware how stress affects their everyday life, but many are unaware of how stress can also affect oral health. From behavioral problems such as clenching, grinding, and chewing on non-food items, to physiological problems which can lead to compromised immunity, stress can profoundly impact oral health. Managing stress can go a long way in improving overall and oral health, and a visit to our dental office can help.

Teeth grinding, known as bruxism, and clenching of the jaw put undue pressure on the teeth, bones, jaw joints, and facial muscles. Many patients are unaware of their grinding problems as this is a very common nighttime behavior, occurring while the patient is asleep. Patients that grind their teeth at night may wake up with sore jaw and face muscles. When these muscles are sore or tense, patients may clench their jaw more during the day and at night. Evidence of these behaviors are detected by dentists in the form of worn down, chipped, and broken teeth, as well as lost fillings and other obvious indicators.

Stress also weakens the immune system, increasing the occurrence of cold sores, canker sores, inflammation, and even gum disease. Patients that experience stress-related oral health problems often report bleeding when they brush and floss, sore gums, and similar issues. Dentists may find increased inflammation, redness, and swelling in the gums, significant bleeding, and other oral health conditions.

The mouth is resilient, however; when stress increases and patients notice these problems arising, rinsing the mouth a few times a day with warm salt water and engaging in diligent brushing and flossing can greatly improve oral health.

Some patients experience dry mouth when stressed. When the mouth is excessively dry for extended periods of time it can create the ideal conditions for bacteria to increase in between teeth, along gums, and even on the tongue and other parts of the oral cavity. While managing the stress is the ideal first step, caring for the mouth, gums, and teeth can go a long way in reducing the negative effects of stress on oral health.

For more information on caring for teeth, gums, and dental health, contact our knowledgeable dentistry team by calling 817-485-2111 today!