Stress and oral health – is there a connection?

Stress can occur when something negative is impacting our lives, such as a global pandemic. But when it comes to stress the last thing on your mind is probably how it can negatively impact your oral health. You probably didn’t think that there was even a link between the two. Ongoing stress is linked to adverse mental and physical issues, but studies have linked stress and oral health together.

And while we can’t completely eradicate stress from our lives we can certainly look at minimising the impact it has on our dental health. Below breaks down the connection between stress and oral health.

Gum disease

Gum disease has various stages that can allow harmful bacteria to penetrate into your gums and your bloodstream. Being stressed can contribute to a lack of oral management and starting to neglect your dental health routine. This can lead to gum disease which at its most advanced stage is known as Periodontal disease. When experiencing periodontal disease, your gums become swollen and inflamed. Gums can recede if it progresses and bacteria can penetrate through the roots of the teeth and into your bloodstream. When this happens, you’re likely to experience tooth loss.

Bad dental hygiene

When constantly stressed, the last thing you’ll think about is how strong or weak your oral hygiene is. This opens the door for your mouth to be impacted by plaque and bacteria build-up, exposing your enamel when both combine together with sugars from food to cause an acid attack. You may skip rinsing your mouth after a meal, using chewing gum after snacks or even simply drinking plenty of water instead replacing water with caffeinated drinks. Doing this can allow plaque and bacteria to start building up and causing decay.

Dental habits

When stressed, you’re more likely to carry out bad habits that can damage your teeth almost instantly. Habits such as using your teeth as an opening tool, biting down on materials or grinding your teeth. These bad habits will cause damage to your teeth that will require cosmetic treatments to rectify.

Teeth grinding

Teeth grinding is especially common during stress. This occurs when the upper and lower roof of your teeth bite down, clench and grind backwards and forwards. Every time you do this, the edges of your teeth become rough and you’ll likely introduce chips and cracks. Teeth grinding can also lead to jaw and facial pain. A dental mouthguard can help you with this, especially when asleep because teeth grinding is mainly a symptom that happens when you sleep. Therefore, if you’re stressed throughout the day, teeth grinding is likely when you’re getting your rest.

As you can see there is a close link between stress and oral health. When we are stressed, it’s all too easy to fall into bad habits and let your oral hygiene slip. Learning to recognise when you are feeling stressed and the techniques that can help you reduce your stress can help you avoid these common dental issues.

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