Stress affects every aspect of our lives. Not just our mood, but all aspects of our health, including our oral health. Here are some ways suffering with excessive stress can affect your teeth:
Probably the biggest impact stress has on your teeth is bruxism, or grinding your teeth at night when you sleep. Most people are not aware they’re doing it, but they might wake up in the morning with a sore jaw, or even a headache as a result of the sustained pressure they’re putting on their own teeth.
Bruxism is a serious health hazard because it can erode the enamel on the surfaces of the teeth, and even the teeth themselves, and there is no way to repair that damage. The eroded enamel will always expose the teeth to food particles and bacteria that can do further damage to the teeth. The surface of the teeth that get rubbed away by other teeth will also forever change the landscape of your mouth. Your teeth will retain that new shape, no matter how your stress levels change afterwards.
In addition to wrecking your teeth, bruxism can affect other parts of your body, such as your jaw. Not only can the muscles of your jaw experience tension and all the consequences that come along with that, but your jaw bone and hinge can also take a hit from prolonged periods of extensive grinding.
What to Do About It
Mouth guards are inexpensive and widely available. Some exist on the market that you can boil and then bite down on to mold to your teeth, or you can have your dentist take a mold of your teeth and have a mouth guard made for you. Wear it every night while you sleep to protect your teeth.
Canker sores are sores that appear inside the mouth, either on the tongue, palate, or insides of the cheeks or lips. No one knows for sure what causes canker sores, but it is widely believed that stress can bring them on.
While not exactly life threatening, canker sores can be very painful and people suffering from them can have difficulty eating, drinking, and even talking until the canker sore goes away (usually within about two weeks). Canker sores also pose a risk to your oral health because they allow bacteria through the skin barrier, making illness and/or an infection more likely.
People experience dry mouth when the mouth fails to produce enough saliva. Not only can this happen when you’re stressed, but it’s also a common side effect of many medications used to treat anxiety and depression. You should always seek medical help if you’re suffering from extreme anxiety or depression, but talk to your doctor about using a medication that doesn’t cause you to get dry mouth. Patients who do suffer from dry mouth are not only chronically uncomfortable, no matter how much water they drink, but the saliva deficiency also makes it harder for their mouths to keep themselves clean, which makes them ripe for unfriendly bacteria.
If you want to keep your teeth healthy and strong, you must take care of them. At Simply Smiles Dentistry, we can show you how to properly care for your teeth. You will have a great smile that lasts a lifetime.
Until next time…Keep on Smiling!