We are all-too-familiar with stress – and many of the effects it has on us. Stress can lead to increased anxiety, lack of sleep, muscle pain and more – all of which lead to pains, discomfort, and a lower quality of life.
Yet what you may not know is that the effects of stress can go even further. They can affect your dental health as well. There is significant research that reveals strong correlations between stress and dental problems, and while dental health is just one of many issues caused by stress, it’s one that’s worth paying attention to as you decide when to schedule your dentist visits.
Dental Health Issues Related to Stress
The following are only a few of the many dental issues that have been linked to stress:
- Teeth Grinding – Many people tend to start grinding their teeth when under a lot of stress. The grinding occurs at night, often while a person is a sleep. It’s not entirely clear why people grind as they sleep, but it can have a profound effect on dental health.
- Dry Mouth – We need saliva to protect our teeth from decay, gum disease, and other dental issues. However, our mouth becomes very dry when under a lot of stress. In addition, the medications designed for depression and anxiety can also lead to dry mouth.
- Gum Disease – Many studies suggest that increased stress levels cause our immune systems to start to weaken. With a weakened immune system, we make ourselves more susceptible to develop diseases such as periodontal disease.
- TMJ/TMD – Temporomandibular joint disorders have also been linked to stress. Tooth grinding and clenching may contribute to worsening of TMJ.
Some of these issues require dental care. Others require a reduction in stress. Both combined are important for maintaining better dental health.
Self-Care is Important for Dental Health
We often tell you to brush and floss. But you should also take care of your stress levels. Stress is a known contributor to poor dental health, and while it’s easier to brush your teeth than eliminate stress from your life, it is also important to make sure that you consider stress reduction as part of your dental health strategy.