Stress is a natural part of life, but if it isn’t managed properly, it can take a toll on your health, including your oral health. What impact does our mental health have on our oral health? We’ll look at how stress can affect a healthy smile and give some coping strategies.
How Stress Can Affect a Healthy Smile
It’s only natural to turn to comfort foods when stressed. Hard or chewy candies, sodas, sports drinks, sticky foods, alcohol, coffee, and starchy snacks are all detrimental to teeth.
Instead of snacking when you’re stressed, try eating healthy foods like raw or crunchy fruits and vegetables, eggs, milk, cheese, almonds, and seeds. These meals are more beneficial for your teeth and body.
Clenching and Grinding
Bruxism, teeth clenching/grinding, is a frequent reaction to stress, anxiety, and tension. It can happen at any time, and we are usually unaware that we are doing it! According to the Bruxism Association, stress is responsible for up to 70% of teeth grinding.
Headaches in the morning, earaches, jaw or facial pain, tooth sensitivity, limited capacity to open your jaw, and cracked teeth are the most typical symptoms. Your dentist may recommend a nightguard to safeguard your teeth from damage.
There is also a correlation between psychological stress and canker sores, according to research. Canker sores are shallow lesions that grow on the soft tissues in your mouth or at the base of your gums that can vary in size and severity. They can be excruciatingly uncomfortable at times and make it very difficult to speak or chew.
Fortunately, these painful sores usually go away on their own after a while. However, if you experience these frequently, pay attention to what your body is trying to tell you. You may be under too much stress!
Stress makes it more difficult for your body to fight illnesses. When your immune system is weakened by stress, harmful bacteria in your mouth take advantage of the opportunity to cause damage to your gums. Gum infection can lead to tooth decay, bleeding gums, and poor breath.
Stress can also promote gum disease if you grind your teeth, clench your jaw, or smoke cigarettes. If you have severe gum disease, you may need to consult a periodontist or a dental specialist.
Poor Oral Hygiene
A neglected oral health routine increases your risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
Home Care Tips
Reduce Your Symptoms
Try to get to the bottom of the issue and determine why you’re anxious. Once you’ve identified the sources, think about the steps you can take to lower your stress levels.
Don’t shy from seeking help from a mental health professional or your primary care physician. Meanwhile, to get relief from unpleasant stress dental problems, perform these steps:
Managing Clenching and Grinding
Try these home care tips suggested by our hygienists if you’re having symptoms due to clenching or grinding your teeth:
- Gently massage the outer region of the jaw joints to relax stiff muscles.
- Place a warm, damp cloth on the outside of the cheeks.
- Switch up your sleeping position.
- If you’re in pain or discomfort, try taking over-the-counter pain relievers to help reduce inflammation.
- Lips together teeth apart: Our hygienists recommend that you keep your lips together, teeth slightly apart, the tip of your tongue lying just above your top front teeth, and breathe through your nose when you’re in a stressful scenario.
- Hard or crunchy food when in pain.
- Tobacco and alcohol can aggravate your oral symptoms.
Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we are doing, and not unduly reactive or overwhelmed by what is happening around us. Mindful.org provides some tips on how to practice mindful meditation, which has been found to reduce stress.
Talk to Your Dentist About Treatment Options
Ask your dentist about having a custom-fitted sleep guard to protect your teeth from grinding and clenching. The night guard also acts as a cushion, relieving pressure on sore muscles and joints.
At Elleven Dental Wellness, we take pride in very high standards of care and treatment. Please book an appointment today to visit our Harley Street dental clinic.