Stressed Out? Your Dentist Knows

Stressed Out? Your Dentist Knows

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Everyone gets stressed. Whether it’s school, work, finances, or family, at one point or another, all of us will feel stressed out.

According to the American Institute of Stress, an alarming 3 out of 4 visits to the doctor are for stress-related illnesses, so it should come as no surprise that stress affects your dental health too.

Stress Causes Bruxism

Bruxism is the technical term for tooth grinding and is a telltale sign of a stressed-out brain. Nervous tension, frustration, and anger can cause you to exhibit signs of bruxism without even realizing it.

A lot of people who grind their teeth do so unconsciously, especially when they’re stressed. Sometimes it happens when your mind is occupied by other things, and sometimes it happens when you’re asleep. Because you may have bruxism without even knowing it, make sure you know what the signs look like.

Some signs include:

  • Flat-looking teeth
  • Extreme tooth sensitivity due to enamel loss
  • Indentations on your tongue
  • Headaches

If you’re regularly stressed out and experience any of the above symptoms, make an appointment with your dentist. It’s crucial to get your bruxism under control before it really affects your oral health.

Stress Causes Jaw Disorders

Temporomandibular disorders or TMD is a group of conditions that affects the jaw joint and the muscles that move the jaw and neck.

Stress can be a major factor in the development of TMD, as stressful situations can cause you to clench your teeth as with bruxism. The signs of bruxism can also point to TMD, but if your jaw pops, clicks, or aches, you may be experiencing the disorder as well.

Stress Causes Gum Disease

When you’re experiencing extreme stress or an anxiety attack, your body floods with a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol can stimulate the cells in your mouth to produce more proteins, which increases inflammation in the gums and the progression of periodontal disease.

Gum disease can manifest as a number of symptoms, including:

  • Red, swollen, or tender gums
  • Bleeding while brushing, flossing, or eating hard food
  • Receding gums
  • Loose or separating teeth
  • Pus between your gums and teeth
  • Sores in your mouth
  • Halitosis that won’t go away
  • Change in the way your bite fits together

In its early stages, gum disease is reversible, but it’s essential that you see a dentist, because it won’t go away on its own.

Stress Causes Dry Mouth

Dry mouth occurs when your mouth doesn’t produce enough saliva. Oftentimes, anxiety can contribute to the onset of dry mouth.

  • Mouth breathing – When under periods of extreme stress, we tend to breathe more heavily through our mouth, which can dry the tongue out.
  • Acid – We are much more prone to acid reflux when experiencing intense stress. Acids can affect the salivary glands and keep the mouth from producing enough saliva.
  • Dehydration – When you don’t drink enough water, you’re actually more prone to anxiety symptoms, because your body needs a lot of water to keep your hormones balanced.

Dry mouth is more thanjust minor discomfort. Saliva is necessary to help flush out bacteria and food particles, keeping your mouth clean. When you don’t produce enough saliva, these leftover food particles can start to erode away at your enamel and cause cavities.

Let Us Help

If you regularly suffer from periods of stress, it’s important to see your dentist. In addition to seeking professional help or practicing stress-relieving activities, ensuring that your dental health is in good shape can help you combat both the causes and effects of a  stressful lifestyle. Set up an appointment with our office if you feel that you may have stress-induced oral health problems.

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