Have you been feeling a bit stressed out lately? Don’t worry; you’re not alone! In fact, according to the APA, the number of Americans who have experienced physical and emotional symptoms of stress has risen to a whopping 80 percent in the last year. Some of these symptoms may be just what you’d expect—lack of sleep, poor nutrition, and feeling overwhelmed, to name a few—but you may be surprised to find that stress has a significant impact on your oral health as well.
How Can Stress Affect Your Oral Health?
Stress can deplete your immune system over time, impact your diet, and even increase tobacco and alcohol usage, making you more susceptible to a variety of health issues. If you experience chronic stress, you might be at risk for the following problems:
- Gum Disease/Gingivitis: Stress can cause inflammation, allowing bacteria to thrive in your gums. This can cause gingivitis, which, if left untreated, can lead to periodontal disease (gum disease).
- TMD and TMJ (Temporomandibular disorders): Clenching your teeth from frustration or stress can lead to conditions that impact your lower jaw and neck. If your jaw clicks or pops, or if you experience any pain in your jaw, you may be suffering from one of these issues.
- Grinding and Clenching (Bruxism): This is one of the most common oral health issues caused by stress, and stress is the most significant factor in predicting the severity of bruxism (grinding your teeth in your sleep). It has been found that clenching your teeth reduces stress hormones in your sleep in the same manner that shouting would relieve stress in your waking hours. However, it is possible that you won’t even realize you’re doing this until you already have facial pain, headaches, and tooth damage.
Luckily, these illnesses can be treated! TruBlu Dentistry has services that can halt and even reverse the oral health issues caused by stress.
How Can Your Dentist Help?
While simple stress management methods (such as meditation, good sleep hygiene, and proper nutrition) can help eliminate your risk for the above illnesses, it is important to treat any health issues you may encounter as a result of stress. Your dentist at TruBlu Dentistry can work with you to see any of the following treatment methods might work for you:
Dental Guard/Night Guard: If you suffer from Bruxism or TMJ, your dentist may recommend that you use a mouth guard at night to protect your teeth, reduce your pain, and prevent disruptive noises. The guard provides a protective layer between your teeth so, as you slide your teeth back and forth, they are less prone to erosion. A dental guard can also be used for jaw pain, as it raises your bite and repositions the jaw in a way that’s more comfortable as you sleep. These are made from a range of materials, from soft rubber to laminate, to acrylic, and can be custom-made to fit your mouth comfortably so you can sleep well (which will also help with your stress!).
Deep Cleaning (Scaling and Root Planing): It is important to treat gingivitis (an infection found primarily in your gums) from the earliest possible stages. Otherwise, you may be at risk of getting gum disease. In this deep cleaning procedure, your dentist will remove tartar and plaque buildup from pockets in the gums and surfaces of your teeth. Your dentist may also recommend an antibiotic to assist in the healing process.
When experiencing stress, taking care of your health is of utmost importance. TruBlu Dentistry is here to help! Contact our offices to see how we can improve your oral health today.