August 1, 2021
Whether it is your boss who is hounding you about a project due in two weeks, your children informing you that two dozen cookies need to be baked before tomorrow, or a friend asking you to volunteer (again) for an upcoming charity event, chronic stress is real. Unfortunately, it does more than impact your mental and emotional health. It can also lead to problems with your oral health if you’re not careful. Read on to learn about the 4 ways stress can negatively impact your smile and what you can do to finally relax.
4 Ways Stress is Impacting Your Smile
Stress, anxiety, and depression often go hand-in-hand. When chronic stress builds over time, your immune system weakens and allows serious infections to develop, one of which is periodontal disease. As bacteria and plaque spread and begin to attack your soft oral tissues, what can start as reddening and mild bleeding when brushing and flossing can quickly progress to bone and potential tooth loss.
But it’s not just the weakening of your immune system that is to blame. Stress also makes it much harder to be motivated. When all you want to do is lay in bed, you’re more likely to neglect your oral hygiene routine, increasing your risk for tooth decay, gum disease, and halitosis (bad breath).
The 4 most common problems that can develop as a result of chronic stress include:
- Oral (Canker) sores that form inside the mouth
- Cold sores that typically develop on the outside of the mouth near the lips
- Bruxism, also known as teeth grinding or clenching, that applies pressure to the teeth and jaw, causing tooth enamel to wear down and chronic jaw pain to form that can lead to problems with the temporomandibular joints
- Burning mouth syndrome that affects the tongue, lips, and roof of your mouth
How to Destress and Take Charge of Your Oral Health
The heavy burden you are carrying will continue to wear you down if you don’t find a solution. Finding ways to destress will not only positively impact your mental and emotional state, but it will also prevent your teeth and gums from becoming a target for disease and decay. A few things to consider that can help you minimize the stress in your life include:
- Talking to a professional counselor about the things in your life causing stress
- Getting outside among nature and going for a walk, run, jog, or a simple hike
- Practicing ways to relax through yoga, meditation, or stretching
- Changing your diet to include healthier alternatives like leafy greens, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy, as these also encourage better gum health and stronger tooth enamel
By taking steps to change the way you think and minimize stress, you will begin to take better care of other aspects of your life like your smile. Maintaining good oral hygiene and continuing to see your dentist every six months are two of the most important things you can do to keep your teeth and gums safe from tooth decay, cavities, and gum disease.
About the Authors
Are you suffering from chronic stress and noticing a change in your smile? Dr. Thomas Meschke and Dr. Aaron Swingdorf are dentists in Chaska who understand just how impactful stress can be on a person’s teeth and gums. If you’re struggling with periodontal disease, cavities, or other common oral health problems, they can provide the necessary treatments designed to get your oral health back on track. Contact us at (952) 448-4151 or visit our website to find out what we can do for you.
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