Growing health concerns and pressures around us can cause us to feel more stress than usual. When we feel stressed, our mental health can be pushed and our body can also be impacted. As April is Stress Awareness Month in the UK, we are encouraged to recognise how stress can impact our mental health and our physical body, as well as identifying ways to better cope with this stress.
Of course, stress can also have a negative effect on our oral health in numerous ways that you may not have ever considered. Paying close attention to your oral health and your symptoms can help in preventing long-term damage.
In this guide, we identify the different ways that stress can have an impact on our teeth, mouth and gums.
Grinding of the teeth, or more formally known as bruxism, is something that many of us do without realising. Teeth grinding is most common when we are sleeping, although some people may experience a habit of grinding the teeth throughout the day, without realising they are doing it.
Teeth grinding can be a sign of stress or anxiety, and can cause serious knock-on effects, for example, jaw pain, neck pain, cracked teeth, chipped teeth or headaches.
If you are noticing your teeth chipping or cracking, you may well be grinding your teeth in your sleep. We recommend visiting your dentist as soon as you notice this and try to avoid clenching your teeth together where possible.
Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD)
Temporomandibular Disorder, also more commonly known as TMD or TMJD (Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction), is a disorder that can cause pain, discomfort and stiffness around the jaw, ear and temple.
Teeth grinding and clenching as a result of stress can further lead to Temporomandibular Disorder which can result in the need to undergo dental treatment or wear a mouthguard.
Gum disease is extremely common and can affect most UK adults at one time or another. It is most often caused by poor oral hygiene such as brushing and flossing habits.
Although many people aren’t aware of this, stress can impact your immune system, meaning that your body may struggle to fight bacteria and you can be more prone to gingivitis and periodontitis. This means that bacteria can thrive and the risks of inflammation increase.
If you are finding yourself struggling with stress, it can be important to take extra care of your gums and visit your dentist for regular cleanings to keep bacterial plaque levels down.
Mouth ulcers aren’t uncommon, and we have all had them at one time or another. They are unpleasant, uncomfortable and can take up to 14 days to heal.
Mouth ulcers are more common in those of us who suffer from stress as we are more likely to bite our cheeks or tongue. Stress and anxiety can both increase the risk of developing mouth ulcers. Most ulcers do not require treatment and just need time to heal. As mouth ulcers are an open invitation to bacteria, you may also be more prone to bacterial infections.
To reduce the risk of further infections and to reduce discomfort, you can use Bonjela Gel to make it more bearable to eat, drink or brush your teeth.
Neglected Oral Hygiene
A general lack of sleep and stress can cause us to neglect our oral hygiene. This includes stress-eating, increased sugar cravings or avoiding visiting the dentist for checkups. When we are stressed, a routine generally goes out the window, meaning that we may not be taking care of our teeth as we should be.
It’s natural to feel stressed from time to time, however, if you feel your oral hygiene routine is suffering as a result of stress, it’s crucial that you visit your dentist for a checkup and advice.
Visit Your Dentist
Every step you take to reduce stress can improve your overall health and wellbeing. While it’s easier said than done, we do advise limiting stress around you and ensuring you get adequate sleep, connect with loved ones and include physical activity to keep you energised.
If you are experiencing any of the above issues, we do advise you to follow up with your dentist regarding these concerns. Getting problems checked over sooner can avoid you having treatment later on.
At Perfect Smile Spa, we understand the importance of having confidence in your teeth and know the consequences that stress can have on your oral health and smile.
For more information on our treatments, please get in touch with us or call us on 01708 442 114.