Stress is something which effects everyone at different points in life. Stress however is not to be taken lightly and over time can have a serious impact on our health and well-being. Many people are unaware of the ways in which stress may also damage our oral health. During time of stress we are more likely to experience grinding/ clenching of the teeth, neglect to our oral hygiene routine and even the an increased risk of gum disease. By being conscious of these behaviours we can hopefully avoid long term damage to the teeth and gums.
Grinding and clenching
Tooth grinding, also known as bruxism is a condition which is left untreated can cause major dental damage and other chronic conditions. Bruxism is often a condition that goes unnoticed and can occur both during the day but most commonly at night. Clenching and tooth grinding can lead to enamel or loss of tooth structure, recession, filling or tooth fracture, muscle tenderness and sensitivity. A dentist may suggest a splint to wear nightly to avoid further tooth loss, along with other avenues of stress management.
Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) is a condition which is closely linked with bruxism. Stress and anxiety have been found to be contributing factors towards the condition. Stressful situations may trigger overuse of the jaw muscles which can result in pain from the face, ear, jaw or mouth. Some people also experience headaches/ migraines or neck pain along with clicking and tenderness from the jaw joint. A splint may again be a solution for someone with TMD along with physical therapies or acupuncture.
Neglect oral hygiene routine
When we are experiencing time of stress we tend to neglect ourselves. One of the first things to occur is that we no longer practice self-care. This means we simply do not have the time or energy for the basic tasks such as brushing and flossing. Another thing that may occur is poor nutrition choices. Stress has been found to prompt us to crave high sugar and junk foods. Such foods can make us more susceptible to tooth decay, which is a major concern particularly if oral hygiene practices are lacking.
Gum disease is an inflammatory condition of the gums which can eventually result in tooth loss. When the body is experiencing stress our immune system can be compromised. This means that our body’s ability to produce immune cells is decreased which then allows bacteria and inflammation to increase. When the body’s immune defence is low this makes it easier for gum infections to establish.
The first step to avoiding such conditions is being able to recognise when you are stressed and how this could be damaging your health. From there it’s about establishing a plan to ease yourself from stress. Obviously stress can be a natural aspect of life, so we are here to help and provide the tools required to keep your mouth healthy and hopefully a better night’s sleep.Return to blog