Stress is a normal part of life, but too much stress can have adverse health effects. Stress can affect many aspects of your health, including your oral health.
Physical stress can cause or exacerbate existing oral health issues, such as bruxism. Bruxism is when you grind your teeth while sleeping, often without realizing you are doing it. This can wear down your enamel and cause more severe damage to your teeth over time. It can also wear down the protective material on the chewing surfaces of your teeth. Having this protective layer is critical in preventing cavities and tooth decay.
In addition to causing physical stress on your mouth, stress can also increase your risk of gum disease. Your mouth contains millions of bacteria that normally help your body function correctly. When faced with prolonged periods of stress, these bacteria can become harmful, leading to inflammation of the gums. This can lead to infection and the need for more aggressive treatment, such as a deep cleaning at the dentist’s office or a gum graft.
While many people associate stress with being bad for a person’s physical health, it can also affect oral health. When a person is stressed or anxious, the body produces a hormone known as cortisol, and this hormone causes increased saliva production. The increased saliva may wash away food particles and debris from the mouth, but it may also contain acid that wears down tooth enamel. Essentially, the cortisol produced by the body during stressful times can have a double negative impact on a person’s oral health.
In addition, stress may cause someone to grind their teeth which can cause teeth to become damaged over time. Teeth grinding is also a common sign of bruxism which is a condition that occurs when an individual grinds or clenches their teeth unconsciously while sleeping. This puts additional pressure on the teeth and can lead to chips, cracks, and even fractured teeth in some cases.
For people who are experiencing a lot of stress and who notice that they are more affected by it than other people they know, it’s important to find healthy ways of coping with stress. Exercise is one of the best ways to combat the effects of stress on the body because it releases endorphins, which are hormones that naturally produce a calming effect in the body. Another way to help combat the negative effects of stress on the body is through meditation. Some yoga techniques and breathing exercises can also be useful when it comes to helping manage stress levels, as they help to create a sense of mindfulness and focus.
There are also going to be times when stress can’t be avoided, and in these cases, patients can talk to their dentist about ways they can help protect their teeth from the effects of this potentially harmful physiological process. For example, a dentist may recommend the use of a night guard to protect the teeth from the effects of nighttime clenching and grinding. A night guard is a custom-made appliance that fits over the teeth and helps prevent them from coming into contact with one another. This prevents the teeth from being damaged.
A diet that lacks proper nutrition can cause nutritional stress, which can have a negative impact on your oral and overall health. Common examples include vitamin and mineral deficiencies, such as calcium or vitamin D, as well as a lack of protein in the diet. Poor nutrition can lead to tooth erosion, tooth decay, gum disease, and bone disease.
Fortunately, improving your diet can help to correct many of these issues. Eating a balanced diet with plenty of lean proteins, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables can help you to avoid these common nutritional stressors. Regular checkups are also recommended to make sure your smile stays healthy and strong for years to come.
Get in touch with Peak Family Dentistry at 4933 Brainerd Rd, Chattanooga, TN 37411, or call (423) 899-1948 to schedule an appointment for the best dental care based on your specific needs.