How Stress May Affect Oral Health

How Stress May Affect Oral Health

Posted by Dr. Ogie Nov 09,2022

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Stress is the body’s response to stimuli, such as work deadlines or relationship issues. The body reacts to stress by activating the body’s natural “fight-or-flight” response. This automatic reaction is meant to protect the body from harm – but when the stressor continues, this defense mode may damage one’s health and affect oral health specifically.

How Can Stress Affect Your Oral Health?

When you’re stressed out, you might notice that you’re more prone to clenching and grinding your teeth. This habit can lead to excessive wear on your tooth enamel. Your teeth may also become more sensitive because you’re consuming more acidic food and drinks that are likely to cause tooth sensitivity. Acidic foods and drinks are highly acidic and can erode the protective layer of your tooth enamel. If your tooth enamel is eroded or thin, you may have increased sensitivity and are more prone to cavities.

As you might imagine, when you’re stressed, it’s harder for your body to fight off infection. In fact, if you’re under chronic stress, your immune system may be suppressed for up to six months after the stressor has been resolved. This means that you may get sick more often during times of stress and take longer to recover than someone without active sources of stress in their daily life. This also puts your teeth and gums at risk because weakened immunity can cause gum disease to flourish in your mouth. Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults and can be incredibly painful and costly to treat. The good news is that there are plenty of healthy ways to combat stress that don’t involve damaging your teeth in the process. If you’re having trouble managing your stress level and its effect on your mouth, talk to your provider about options to help you reduce your stress levels and improve your quality of life.

What Can You Do About Stress?

First, consider these tips for reducing stress in your daily life:

  • Practice good self-care by eating healthy and exercising regularly. Also, get enough sleep every night and avoid stimulants such as caffeine late in the day.
  • If you’ve tried these stress management techniques and still have trouble grinding your teeth at night, wear a night guard. They are small plastic mouthpieces that sit over your teeth to prevent you from grinding them against one another while you sleep. Night guards are also helpful if you have a habit of clenching or gnash­ing your teeth during the day.
  • Talk to someone you trust, such as a friend or family member. Talking with someone can help relieve stress and give you a different perspective on the situation.

Keep in mind that there are many things you can do to reduce stress and improve your quality of life. Just don’t ignore any oral health concerns you have when you’re under stress! 

To learn more about our dental procedures, visit ROBERT A. OGIE DDS at 2730 W 16th St, Yuma, AZ 85364. Call us at (928) 726-9262 to book an appointment. 

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