Everyone manages stress in their unique way; however, when your methods lead to dental issues, you may need to re-think your stress management techniques. Teeth grinding is the most commonly found acute physical response to stress, but plenty of others can trigger stress.
If you find yourself suffering from one (or several) of these dental issues, you may want to reflect on if stress is the source of your issues.
Canker sores aren’t well understood when it comes to why people get them. Canker sores develop on the inside of the mouth and on the cheeks, lips, tongue, and gums. While they are not contagious like a cold sore, the tingling pain can be unpleasant. Stress or anxiety are thought to be the top two contributing factors to canker sores developing. Other things can increase your risk of developing a canker sore, including fatigue and biting the inside of your cheek or lip.
If you’ve noticed that stress or anxiety seems to trigger the development of canker sores for you, learning how to manage your stress could help you avoid a flare-up.
Bruxism or Teeth Grinding
Teeth grinding has been directly linked with a few triggers, including stress being the most common factor. Stress can cause you to clench your teeth at night or “teeth tap” in stressful moments throughout the day. Other bruxism triggers include misaligned teeth and jaw misalignment and sleep apnea. Teeth grinding is a common condition; however, it should not be ignored. Left untreated, grinding can lead to severe and chronic conditions.
Some symptoms of teeth grinding include:
Abnormal tooth wear
Broken or chipped teeth
Change in the appearance of your face
The link between gum disease and stress has been found in many studies. When the body is experiencing stress, its ability to manufacture immune cells to protect against bacteria is reduced and compromised. Stress dramatically affects your immune system, allowing bacteria to thrive and increase inflammation. If you are a person prone to gum disease, you may look to factors in your life that cause you strain and find ways of managing your stress.
Stress and anxiety are common factors in patients suffering from Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ). Stressful situations can be a trigger for the overuse of the jaw muscles. Clenching or grinding the teeth put exponential pressure on the teeth and muscles in the jaw, which leads to the overuse of your TMJ joint.
Struggling with a dry mouth is common to experience during an irritating time. When your salivary glands don’t produce enough saliva, your mouth can feel sticky and dirty. Anxiety and stress can quickly lead to dry mouth, which has the potential to be incredibly damaging for your teeth. The condition starts with a reduction of saliva, which helps to remineralize teeth against bacteria. As a result, an increase in plaque or cavities can occur.
Dry mouth, also called xerostomia, is associated with several symptoms, including:
Consistent sore throat
Dry nasal passages
A burning sensation
Preventing Stress-Induced Dental Issues
There are many effective ways of reducing the occurrence of stress-induced dental issues. Some simple ways that can help reduce not only the effects of stress on your teeth but also lower your overall stress levels include:
Practicing stress-reducing activities. Physical activities, including yoga and meditation, are proven to work the body and calm the mind. These activities are proven to be successful tools in managing stress.
Wear a dental guard at night to reduce teeth grinding
Get plenty of sleep
Limit caffeine and alcohol intake
Eat a healthy, balanced diet
To help manage dental issues brought on by stress in your life, contact Hinsdale Dentistry.