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Stress and Its Impact on Your Oral Health

October 14, 2022 / DENTISTRY

Life is busy. We all have a lot to balance, whether that includes work, relationships, children, exercise, side hustles, art, or any combination of these things. Balancing the multiple roles we fill in life can be stressful, and that stress can have many physical manifestations.

It’s well-known that stress can negatively impact your health, leading to problems like high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity, but did you know that stress can also create problems with your oral health? Well, it can.

Here’s how:

  1. Stress makes you more likely to develop gum disease
    Stress can weaken your immune system, and a weakened immune system is not as effective at fighting bacteria as a fully functioning immune system. When you’re highly stressed, the bacteria that grows in your mouth has a better opportunity to flourish and spread, which can cause infections what lead to gingivitis and eventually even periodontitis.

    The good news is that gingivitis is easy to treat if it’s caught in the early stages before it develops into periodontitis – one of many reasons why it’s important to visit your family dentist in St. Jacobs regularly, especially if you lead a high-stress lifestyle.
  2. Stress can cause mouth sores
    The same weakened immune system that allows bacteria to develop also puts you at increased risk for developing mouth sores. These can be extremely uncomfortable, impacting your ability to eat and sleep, which can make the problem even worse.

    The good news here is that mouth sores often go away on their own without the need for medical intervention.
  3. You’re more likely to grind your teeth when you’re stressed
    A common, subconscious response to stress is to clench the jaw or grind your teeth. This is referred to as bruxism, and it can lead to serious dental problems like cracks, enamel erosion, and significant pain and discomfort in the mouth and jaw.

    If you’re experiencing bruxism caused by stress, talk to your dentist about treatment options, including a nightguard.
  4. You’re more likely to develop tooth decay when you’re stressed
    Stress can lead to tooth decay in the same ways that it can contribute to obesity and diabetes. When you’re stressed, you are far more likely to reach for starchy, sugary snacks like processed foods and candy. To add to that, you are less likely to have the time to brush after each meal, leaving the sugars from those unhealthy foods attached to the teeth all day long. These sugars erode your enamel, which is the substance that protects your teeth from decay.

It’s clear that stress is a negative force in a person’s life, so be sure to talk to your family doctor if you are looking for coping strategies or advice on how to manage your stress.

If you’re concerned that your stress levels are impacting your oral health, call our team at St. Jacobs Dental Care to schedule an appointment today.

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