Everyone experiences stress at one point or another, and it’s usually not very hard to recognize the symptoms. Stress can affect every aspect of life, including your oral health. The effects of stress on oral health can be both simple and complex. Some of the effects of stress on oral health are direct and related to oral hygiene behaviors. Other effects are indirect and are related to how the body reacts to stress.
Increased dry mouth or xerostomia: When the mouth is not producing enough saliva, it leaves the teeth and gums susceptible to bacteria and plaque buildup. This increases the risk of cavities and gum disease.
Teeth grinding or clenching: When people are stressed, they may begin unconsciously to grind their teeth together. Grinding the teeth can cause damage to the enamel of the teeth as well as cause jaw pain.
Bad breath: Decreased salivary flow can leave the mouth dry and vulnerable to bacteria growth. This can lead to bad breath.
Headaches: The muscles of the head can become tense and sore due to stress and tension. These headaches are caused by misalignments in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and can restrict the movement of the jaw.
Muscle tension: Stress may also cause severe muscle tension throughout the body, which can lead to issues with joint pain and stiffness in the jaw as well.
When you’re feeling stressed, you may forget to look after your teeth like normal. You may skip brushing or flossing, which can increase your risk for cavities and other oral health problems. You may not even be aware that you’re skipping your oral hygiene routine. If you’re under a lot of stress, you may experience symptoms such as a dry mouth or even grinding or clenching your teeth. Both of these habits can increase your risk for tooth damage, decay, and even tooth loss.
It’s important to make time for self-care when you’re experiencing a high level of stress. Whether that means taking time to relax, exercising, or taking part in meditation, there are many steps you can take to reduce your stress levels and improve your physical and mental well-being.
If you are interested in finding out how you can minimize stress and maintain good oral health, call Dr. Dizik’s office to schedule your consultation today. Call (650) 348-5424 to book an appointment, or visit us at 720 N El Camino Real, San Mateo, CA 94401.