Stress is an inevitable part of our lives, whether you are a student at school, a CEO of a large firm, or a mother of two. The feeling of being overloaded with the emotional, physical or mental pressure that you cannot cope up with is what we call stress. Even though a certain level of stress motivates some of us since it gives us an extra push to complete tasks well on time, the same stress level could be overwhelming for others. However, unless managed well, any level of stress can eventually start showing negative effects on our health. Ever wondered what stress does to your oral health?
According to the American Psychological Association, stress affects our reproductive system, digestion, nerves and much more. Researchers have now identified the following links between stress and oral health as well:
- People tend to clench and gnash their teeth due to stress. Most people do not realize they clench or grind their teeth when they are asleep. Some people do it during the day as well. People who clench their teeth and jaw muscles have weakness, spasms, and tenderness in their mastication muscles (the jaw muscles that help you chew), which can result in the following problems:
-Muscles of the neck and face become weak and tender, which can lead to frequent headaches in the morning.
-Damage to the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) that connects the jawbone to the rest of the skull. The damage to the joint may be minor with just a clicking felt while opening or closing of the mouth. It could also be severe, preventing the lower jaw from functioning well.
-Distortion of the cheek muscles.
Flat and short teeth that become increasingly sensitive with damage.
-Damage to the gums and the supporting structures of the teeth, leading to mobility of the teeth or fracture.
- Stress is one of the causes of dry mouth, where you feel that your mouth has become dry due to less saliva in your mouth. The mouth uses saliva to fight against harmful bacteria; therefore, the lack of saliva can result in infections, diseases, and even tooth decay.
- Emotional stress is one of the causes of canker sores. These sores are tiny shallow ulcers that grow at the base of your gums or in the tissues of your mouth. They make it hard to eat and drink and can be painful.
- One of the most significant effects of stress is a weak immune system. Therefore, you tend to develop oral infections like gum diseases more easily. Stress can also worsen an existing oral infection.
- You may develop poor dietary habits due to stress, and miss out on the vital vitamins and minerals like calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium, vitamin D from your food that are required for the health of your body including that of your teeth.
- Also, eating junk food could become your latest diet plan due to stress. Some people tend to skip healthy food and eat a lot of junk food when they are stressed. This can result in poor oral health and trigger a cascade of oral health issues.
- All that chaos in your head may end up with you forgetting to take care of yourself. You may not get enough time to go through the daily ritual of brushing and flossing your teeth. In fact, you might be missing your dental appointments too due to the crazy deadlines, hampering your dental health even more.
Pay attention to your teeth and your stress levels
Here are a few tips to manage your stress, which will help you manage your oral health as well:
- Follow relaxation techniques like yoga, meditation, soothing music, pursuing a hobby, or spending time with family and friends
- Eat a healthy balanced diet
- Exercise — staying active can help you cope with stress better
- Sleep for at least 7 hours daily
- Visit your dentist for routine check-ups and cleanings
- Practice the routine of brushing and flossing daily, twice a day
Taking care of your oral health is easy. Just take out some time to relax and de-stress! While those toothpastes, rinses, and gargles help you achieve a confident and healthy smile, defeat your stress for an even healthier and radiant smile!