Effects of Stress on Your Dental Health

Stress certainly has a negative effect on your physical health, but did you know it can cause you to experience problems with your oral health, too? Take a look at some of the orthodontic, and dental health problems that can be caused, or at least aggravated, by stress.

Constant or Excessive Teeth Grinding that Causes TMD

Many people tend to clench their jaws or grind their teeth when they are under a lot of stress. Clenched jaws and grinding teeth may not cause problems at first. However, if you continue to do these things it could lead to a very painful condition known as TMD or temporo-mandibular joint disorder.  During times of grinding your teeth, you can apply as much as 10x the normal forces to your teeth and TMJ. This excessive force and loading can cause many issues with breaking down of your teeth and increased pain.

TMD causes you to experience extreme pain and discomfort when you move your jaw or open and close your mouth. This can cause you to have problems engaging in everyday activities such as talking, yawning, and eating.

Cracked or Broken Teeth Caused by Clenched Teeth or Teeth Grinding

Excessive grinding or clenching your jaw can cause another problem – broken, chipped, or cracked teeth. The teeth crack, chip, or fracture because of the intense stress or force placed on them when you are stressed and grind your teeth.  With this type of damage, many people will have to have extensive dental work done on otherwise healthy teeth!

Increased Amount of Mouth Sores

Mouth sores, like cold sores or canker sores, tends to occur when you are experiencing a lot of stress. It is believed that the sores develop because the stress causes your immune system to be compromised, which makes it easier for bacteria or viruses that are linked to canker sores and cold sores to attack your body.

Dental Problems Occur Due to Poor Oral Hygiene

People who are under a lot of stress tend to unconsciously neglect their oral hygiene. With braces, this isn’t an option. Plaque build up can cause white spots to form on the teeth. This is a direct result of poor oral hygiene. What types of things are neglected when you are stressed will vary. Some may only brush their teeth once a day, skip routine dental cleanings, or not floss at all.

Failing to keep up with good oral hygiene can cause a number of dental problems. Everything from gingivitis, tooth decay and cavities, to advanced gum disease, or abscessed teeth can be caused by not practicing good oral hygiene.

Ways to Avoid Oral Health Problems Caused by Stress

If you want to avoid experiencing oral health problems caused by stress, you need to learn how to manage or deal with stress. This won’t be easy, but if you learn how to manage stress you will notice changes in your physical and emotional health.

Some ways people have learned to manage their stress include:

  • Eating a healthy diet filled with vitamins and minerals – if your body isn’t getting enough vitamins and minerals it can cause you to feel anxious, stressed, and depressed. This can lead to numerous physical, emotional, and dental problems
  • Using relaxation techniques, such as meditation and breathing exercises, to manage stress
  • Making sure you get plenty of sleep
  • Exercising – regular exercise has been clinically proven to reduce stress
  • Visit a counselor for therapy or to learn valuable stress-relieving techniques that can help you
  • Make time for a hobby or spending time with friends / family.  Life gets busy and scheduling time for the “Fun Stuff” is just as important as all the other “important things”

**Always remember to keep your lips together and teeth apart.  You should never rest with your teeth together! Doing this will decrease muscle tension and will help decrease the force you apply to your teeth**

Schedule an Appointment for a Routine Examination and Professional Teeth Cleaning

If you have been under a lot of stress lately you could be experiencing oral health problems and not even know it. Many oral health problems, such as some mouth sores and gum disease, are asymptomatic. Just because you don’t experience symptoms from these problems doesn’t mean your oral health isn’t at risk.

You and your health are very important and deserve the time and resources needed to make sure you stay healthy.  If you don’t take care of yourself, you cannot be your best self to care for others!

At Strickland Orthodontics, our orthodontists take a progressive approach to stay up to date on all the latest on stress research for oral health. This means we will focus not only on treating any dental problems you are experiencing, but we will help you understand exactly how exposure to chronic stress is impacting your orthodontic, oral, and physical health.

Need to schedule an appointment for a Smile Evaluation, TMD issues or concerns with tooth wear caused by grinding or clenching?

Call Us Today To Schedule An Appointment!