Stress has been shown to impact overall health, but did you know that it can also show signs in your mouth, too? Poor oral health is linked to stress and is often associated with gum disease, TMJ disorders, and tooth loss. Learn more about how to manage stress and your oral health with Dr. Robert Cain, a periodontics and implant surgery specialist in Knoxville, TN.
4 Ways Stress Affects Oral Health
Teeth grinding is commonly associated with stress, whether from your own personal environmental factors or stress inside the mouth and jaw from a dental problem. When teeth, jaw, and intricate system of muscles in the mouth and neck aren’t working properly, it creates tension. This tension can lead to headaches, facial pain, and teeth grinding.
The main cause of periodontal disease is bacteria in plaque that is left untreated, but it is also linked to stress. The bacteria in our mouths bond with mucus and other particles to form plaque on teeth. The plaque that isn’t removed by brushing and flossing hardens and forms tartar.
To get rid of the bacteria, our immune systems release defense cells that cause areas around the teeth to become inflamed. As our gums swell, they pull away from the teeth creating little pockets that allow more bacteria to settle in.
Like teeth grinding, TMJ disorders are often linked to stress. Teeth grinding can lead to deeper problems within the jaw, causing pain when chewing, headaches, or even bite alignment problems. Stress reduction can help reduce TMJ disorder symptoms, but persistent pain may require advanced treatment from your dentist.
Stress releases hormones that can dry out your mouth. A dry mouth is a fertile breeding ground for oral bacteria, which are the cause of gum disease. In addition, individuals in stressful environments may be less likely to engage in healthy habits such as drinking enough water and eating a nutritious diet, which can also lead to a dry mouth.
Managing Your Oral Health When You’re Stressed
Managing stress can be difficult, and it’s easy to forget about your oral health when there are other things going on. Be sure to maintain your at-home oral hygiene regimen to keep oral bacteria at bay, and incorporate stress-relieving techniques such as walks, exercise, and eating healthy foods.
Your dentist is your ally when it comes to your oral health. Schedule an appointment with us online or call our office at (865) 280-1173 if you’re looking for help managing your oral health.