According to the American Institute of Stress, 3 out of every 4 visits to the doctor are for stress-related illnesses. When you get stressed out, your body undergoes hormonal changes that can have negative impacts on your health.
So it should come as no surprise that stress affects your dental health as well.
Stress and Teeth Grinding
Teeth grinding, also called bruxism, is a telltale sign of an overstressed brain. Nervous tension, frustration, and anger often lead people to grind their teeth. A lot of people who grind their teeth do so at night, so many may not even realize that they have this condition.
Signs of bruxism include:
- Extreme tooth-sensitivity
- Indentations on your tongue
- Flat-looking teeth
If you think that you may have bruxism, make sure to schedule an appointment with your dentist, because teeth grinding can lead to irreparable damage to your enamel.
Stress and Gum Disease
When you experience bouts of extreme stress or anxiety attacks, your entire body floods with a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol can lead the cells in your mouth to produce more proteins, which can increase inflammation in the gums.
Signs of gum disease include:
- Tender, red, or swollen gums
- Receding gums
- Bleeding while brushing, flossing, or chewing hard foods
- Loosening or separating teeth
- Sores in your mouth
- Persistent bad breath
- Change in the way your bite fits together
Stress and Dry Mouth
Dry mouth or xerostomia happens when your mouth does not produce enough saliva. Anxiety can cause this to occur for a number of reasons:
- Acid – Our bodies are much more prone to acid reflux when under intense stress. Acids can affect the salivary glands and prevent the mouth from producing enough saliva.
- Dehydration – You’re far more susceptible to anxiety symptoms when you don’t drink enough water.
- Mouth breathing – When under periods of extreme stress, we tend to breathe through our mouths, which can cause the mouth to dry out.
Dry mouth entails more than just discomfort. You need saliva to help flush out bacteria and food particles, which keeps your mouth clean. So when you don’t produce enough saliva, these leftover food particles can erode away at your enamel and cause cavities.
Let Us Help
We want all of our patients to live a life with minimum amounts of stress. If you’re prone to bouts of anxiety or extreme stress, we recommend that, in addition to seeing a professional to help equip you with the tools that you need to combat it, you see a dentist to ensure that your dental health is not suffering. Set up an appointment with our office if you feel that you may have stress-induced or any oral health problems.