It is common knowledge that stress affects our physical and mental health negatively, but few people are aware of the fact that stress also affects our teeth and oral health as well. Stress can cause serious oral problems such as canker sores, burning mouth, TMJ disorder, teeth grinding and gum problems. The consequences can be long-term and deteriorating. Read on to learn about the ways stress affects your teeth and gums in order to be able to prevent it from happening.
Stress causes mouth sores
When talking about stress affecting your teeth, mouth sores are one of the usual outcomes created by too much stress. There are two types of mouth sores: canker sores and cold sores. Canker sores are small spots with a white or gray base and a red outline that appears inside your mouth in pairs or in a greater number. Even though experts aren’t exactly sure what causes them, stress definitely doesn’t help in reducing them. The cause could be your body’s defense against germs, viruses, bacteria or something else. If you’re dealing with canker sores, it’s best to avoid spicy and hot food, tomatoes and citrus fruits. They disappear in 7 to 10 days.
Cold sores are blisters that are caused by the herpes simplex virus. They usually appear on or around your lips and they are full of fluid. A lot of stress can cause an outbreak. You should treat these sores as soon as they appear in order not to infect other people but they heal in the same way as canker sores do.
Stress is the cause of burning mouth syndrome
Another oral problem caused by stress: burning mouth syndrome. It is a painful disease that damages your teeth and gums. Alcohol and smoking make this health condition even worse. It can be mild or severe. To treat the burning mouth syndrome, you can suck on small ice chips, drink cold liquids, avoid citrus fruits and spicy food and stay active to reduce stress.
Teeth grinding is the result of stress
Due to a lot of stress and pressure in our everyday life, we might clench and grind our teeth. It can happen both during day and night, but it usually happens during the night. And it often happens without us realizing it. Stress makes this condition even worse. It can cause further problems with your jaw known as the TMJ disorder. Many dental centres that offer denture services also offer night guards. These and other appliances are worn during sleep and they prevent you from grinding. Another useful piece of advice is: keep your mouth slightly apart when you’re not consuming any food.
Stress leads to TMJ disorder
TMJ stands for “temporomandibular joint” and it is a condition that refers to the joint that connects your lower jaw to the rest of your skull. This joint syndrome results in swelling, stiffness, pain and popping in the lower jaw. It is directly connected to grinding and clenching as such overuse of jaw muscles causes it. Common indicators of this condition are sore jaw muscles or popping and clicking in your jaw. You can also experience pain when moving your jaw up and down. Depending on the level of severity, there are many at-home and professional treatments available.
Stress induces gum infection
If you’re exposed to long-term stress, the chances are that you’ll feel the effects somewhere. Research has shown that long-term stress weakens our body’s ability to fight off infections. The condition is quite serious as it can result in decaying teeth, bad breath and bleeding gums. These infections weaken our immune system and in that way, bacteria have a free pass to our body. You can prevent infections from happening if you maintain good oral hygiene and if you consume immune-boosting foods. If you’re dealing with inflamed gums, it is best to consult a dentist as soon as possible. We are most prone to infections when we’re under stress constantly.
Stress causes neglect in oral hygiene
It is a normal occurrence that when we’re under a lot of stress, we tend to neglect our self-care practices. We neglect our hygiene, sleep, healthy eating habits, our relaxation and recreation time. Stress robs us from our sleep, which leaves us without the energy to clean our teeth and floss. Not only that, stress makes us crave sugary food – food that is certainly not favourable for our teeth and health generally. That’s why we need to keep up with good oral hygiene practices even when we’re under a lot of stress. Because if we allow it to get to us, it will just create a problem after a problem.
One thing is for sure – we can’t avoid stress, we can just learn to live with it. Since we’re forced to such a life, we can do our best not to let it affect us physically, mentally or orally.
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