If you’re battling stress, it’s probably taking its toll on your mind, body, and even your oral health. When trying to juggle work, kids, schoolwork, late-night games, dinner, and household chores, it can become too much. If you’re experiencing pain in your jaw, bleeding gums, or maybe nervous nail-biting, it’s time to talk to your dentist. Find out how stress impacts oral health and what you can do to reduce and even eliminate the problem.
How Stress Impacts Your Oral Health
If you’re wondering why you suddenly have immense jaw pain or are noticing your gums are more tender to the touch, these are signs you shouldn’t ignore. Stress affects everyone differently, but when it comes to its impact on your oral health, you should seek treatment from your dentist as soon as possible. Fortunately, there are various methods of treatment that can help alleviate symptoms and have you enjoying a healthier smile and lifestyle.
Here are just a few ways stress can take its toll on your teeth, gums, and jaw:
- Excessive Wear and Tear of the Tooth Enamel – Are you a nail biter? When you get nervous, do you immediately bring your hands to your mouth and start to chew? It’s a common habit practiced by many people, but it doesn’t make it a good one. Not only can you transfer germs from your hands to your mouth, which can be problematic for the spreading of harmful bacteria, but you can also cause severe wear and tear on your teeth, thinning the tooth enamel. This can lead to tooth sensitivity and even an infection that can easily move into the inner layers of your tooth.
- Jaw Pain – This one can be attributed to several oral-related problems, but the two most prevalent are teeth grinding and TMJ. Both conditions can be brought on by stress. If you grind or clench your teeth, you’ll begin to notice wear and tear on your teeth, as well as chronic jaw pain, damaged teeth, and headaches. You might even discover you have difficulty sleeping, which can result in sleep apnea.
- TMJ – Another reason for jaw pain is TMJ or Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD). Not only will you struggle with difficulty opening and closing your mouth while eating or talking, but you’ll also likely have a stiff neck, swelling, and popping of the jaw.
- Bleeding Gums – If you begin to notice that your gums are bleeding, call your dentist immediately. This is a sign that you might have early stages of gum disease. If handled early on, you can reverse the problem; however, if left untreated, it can develop into periodontitis, which can result in bone and tooth loss.
Regaining Your Oral Health
It’s important that you speak with your dentist about your stress levels. During your regular checkup, discuss possible ways you can alleviate the stress in your life. Some examples include:
- Speaking to a counselor
- Keeping a journal
Apart from managing your stress, you’ll also need to practice good oral hygiene at home, such as:
- Brushing your teeth twice a day for a full two minutes
- Floss at least once a day
- Rinse with an antiseptic mouthwash
- Limit your sugar intake, as it can cause harmful bacteria to burrow and create cavities
While you might not be able to fully eliminate the stress in your life, it’s always best to finds ways to manage it. Taking a brisk walk to get away from distractions is a great way to start. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Not only does your mind and body depend on it, but so does your oral health.
About the Author
Dr. Gary Nawrocki earned his Doctorate in Dentistry from the University of Florida in 1980. He has since completed advanced dental studies at the Pankey Institute, the Seattle Institute, and the Spear Educational Institute. He has also studied cosmetic dentistry at Louisiana State’s Dental School and advanced aesthetics with the Rosenthal Institute of New York. Dedicating his practice to cosmetic and reconstructive dentistry, he and his team at Nawrocki Dental are devoted to providing excellence, esthetics, and superior service to his patients. To learn more about our services, contact us at (321) 783-7514.