Stress is unfortunately something that is a part of life and that everybody has to deal with at one time or another, whether it’s about money, exams, relationships or work. If not properly managed, stress can be debilitating and affect sufferers not only mentally but physically.
What most people aren’t aware of is that stress can have a negative impact on your teeth, gums and oral health, leading to a variety of potential issues.
We spoke to a professional Essex Dentist and found out the most common ways that stress affects dental health so that you know what to look out for.
Stress can sometimes lead to teeth grinding also known as Bruxism, which usually occurs when a person is asleep, meaning that they are often unaware that they are even doing it. They may however suffer from symptoms such as jaw, neck and tooth pain, headaches, earache, sensitivity and worn, chipped or broken teeth and fittings.
One of the ways your dentist can help will be to have you fitted for a night guard to use whilst you sleep to protect teeth from damage and jaw exercises to help strengthen muscles.
When some people are stressed, they can find themselves neglecting their oral hygiene, eating too many unhealthy or sugary foods and smoking or drinking more than usual. These can contribute towards plaque build-up, cavities and dental decay which can lead to a number of problems if not properly treated.
It has been proven that stress can have a negative impact on the immune system meaning that gums can become chronically inflamed and cause infections of the mouth such as gingivitis. If left untreated, this can develop into periodontitis, meaning the gums pull away from the teeth and form gaps, loosening the teeth’s foundation and leading to tooth loss.
Some of the symptoms include bleeding gums, swollen gums and bad breath so be sure to visit your dentists straight away if you are concerned as they will be able to treat it as quickly and effectively as possible. In the meantime, to prevent it from occurring, be sure to maintain a good oral health routine of brushing, flossing, regular check-ups and hygienist appointments.
Mouth ulcers can be triggered by a number of things but one of them is stress. They can be painful, uncomfortable and cause irritation where they occur, usually on the inside of the gum, lip, cheek or underside of the tongue. Ulcers usually heal within 10-14 days but in the meantime, over the counter numbing agents can help to reduce the pain. If you notice ulcers that take longer than 3 weeks to heal, ensure you get checked out by a professional to rule out anything dangerous or malignant.
Stress can not only decrease the amount of saliva you produce leading to dry mouth but also poor or irregular oral hygiene, causing unwanted bad breath (halitosis). If this is the case then it’s important to drink plenty of water, rinse with a non-alcoholic mouthwash, use a tongue scraper, brush consistently twice a day and visit a hygienist for regular cleanings.