July 20, 2016
Stress in your life is going to be a constant as long as you have a beating heart. Knowing the effects of stress is important, and we all know the physical effects stress can have on our bodies. What you may not know is that those effects can extend to your oral health as well.
3 Ways Stress Can Affect Your Dental Health
Not only does stress make your life difficult in general, but now you’ve found out it can hurt your dental health as well. Better you know now so you can do something to avoid the issues.
Here are three ways stress can hurt your dental health.
#1 – Canker sores are believed to be caused by stress. If you are unfamiliar with what canker sores are, they are small spots that show up in your mouth. They hurt but normally go away on their own after a few days. One thing that seems to work is putting an antacid tablet in your mouth and situating it over the sore. Any acid keeping the sore open is neutralized, and the antacid itself starts to calm down the spot.
Cold sore outbreaks are also attributed to elevated stress levels. These are more complicated than canker sores because they are caused by the herpes simplex virus, which is contagious. Like canker sores, these tend to go away on their own after a few days as well. There are over-the-counter remedies you can try to ease the pain of the cold sores, but really the only proven cure is time.
#2 – Grinding your teeth can also be linked to high levels of stress. Grinding your teeth, or bruxism, can cause several additional problems. The first is that you run the risk of chipping, wearing down, and damaging your teeth. Your enamel is about as hard as cement, but even cement will break if enough pressure is applied. Grinding your teeth together exerts an amazing amount of force on enamel, and once it chips away, it is gone forever. You can strengthen enamel but not regrow it.
The other possible problem comes in the form of developing an injury to your temporomandibular joint, or TMJ. An injury to your TMJ can be very painful and cause symptoms like lockjaw (open or closed), aches and constant pain while chewing, and even migraines or headaches.
#3 – Stress can also cause you to get a little bit lax with your dental cleaning habits. You may find yourself tired and just not feeling like doing what you should to keep you teeth clean and your mouth healthy. It is during these times that you need to remember what Dr. Ki has told you regarding keeping up your brushing and flossing in between dental appointments.
Your dental cleaning routine is also important because when you are stressed, you may change some of your eating habits. You might start snacking on foods that probably aren’t the best for your teeth. Keeping your mouth free from the sugars and starches that feed plaque and tartar will benefit you by lowering the level of gum disease–causing bacteria in your mouth.
3 Ways To Relieve Stress
- Have a good laugh – Do something that will give you a good, hearty laugh. Find something funny to read, share a joke with a friend, or check out a stand-up comic on YouTube. Laughing is has been shown in studies to reduce the level of cortisol, the stress chemical in your brain, and raises your level of endorphins, the chemical related to good feelings.
- Listen to your favorite songs – Music has a way of helping us feel better. When we are sad, nervous, or especially stressed, a song that we really enjoy can make all the difference in the world. If you’re feeling stressed, pop on one of your favorite songs or listen to a favorite playlist. You may find yourself a little lower on the stress scale afterward.
- Take a walk – Just get yourself moving. This helps when you’re tired as well. Take a walk, a jog, or do a little exercise. Just something to get the blood flowing again. You may find your second wind before you know it.
Call Dr. Ki at our Fairfax, VA office at 703-552-2530 to schedule an appointment and learn more easy ways to keep your mouth healthy and free from stress.