How Stress Can Affect Your Oral Health

How Stress Can Affect Your Oral Health

Feeling stressed can have a huge impact on our overall health and wellbeing. Stress can cause us to experience headaches, loss of appetite, weight loss and more, but stress can also affect our oral health.

Clenching of teeth is a common symptom of stress, and many people clench or grind their teeth subconsciously during bouts. The clenching action places undue pressure on the temporomandibular joints – the small hinged joint that controls the opening and closing of the jaw – leading to jaw pain, pain in the neck, cheeks and face and even headaches.

Temporomandibular Joint Disorder, also known as TMJ, can also affect a person’s appetite, as eating becomes painful due to the stresses and aches already in place. The clenching and grinding of teeth can also cause teeth to interact forcibly against each other, leading to teeth becoming worn, chipped or even broken. Damaged teeth should be treated by a dentist, in order to minimize the impact of the damage, or prevent further damage from taking place.

Feeling stressed can affect our sleeping pattern, which in turn can leave us feeling exhausted, run down and lacking in energy. When we are ‘running on empty’ we are more likely to experience mouth sores, such as cold sores or canker sores. These usually manifest around the lips and are unsightly, and often painful.

Stress can leave us feeling harassed and hurried, and so we may not devote sufficient time to good dental health practices. As a result, we may forego our regular cleaning pattern and perhaps only quickly brush our teeth, or in some cases not brush at all. We may also forego flossing, and even cancel a dental appointment. By missing out on our oral health program, we allow the development of gum disease, cavities and tooth decay.

Conditions such as dry mouth can be exacerbated by stress, leading to a lack of saliva in the mouth. Saliva is used by the mouth to rinse away food debris and bacteria which can cause bad breath, formation of plaque and help keep teeth and gums clean.

Stress can cause other dental-related concerns, too. Schedule a visit with our dentist, Dr. Mark E. Massaro, to learn more about how to deal with the issue of stress and its effects on oral health.