Stress is the body's way of reacting to outside stimuli. This reaction causes a series of physiological changes, including an increase in heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration. While stress can be a positive force in our lives, too much stress can wreak havoc on our bodies.
When you're under stress, your body's automatic response is to release adrenaline and cortisol into your bloodstream. These hormones help your body deal with stress by increasing your heart rate, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels. While these physical reactions can be a good thing in the short term, they can also take a toll on your oral and dental health in the long term. Here are some of the ways that stress can affect your oral health:
When you are stressed, you may see more symptoms of gingivitis or periodontitis. Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums, while periodontitis is an advanced stage of it that causes lasting damage below the gum line. Both are caused by plaque buildup along your gum line that causes irritation and inflammation. As your stress levels increase, you may notice that you produce more saliva than usual. While this may seem helpful at first, you may actually find that this extra moisture feeds the harmful bacteria growing in your mouth, causing even more harm to your teeth. You may also notice that your gums bleed more easily while you are stressed. This is because of increased blood flow to your mouth when you are anxious. However, if your gums continue to bleed regularly after you've tried to control your stress levels, you should make an appointment with your dentist. You may need to receive periodontal treatment to help stop the progression of your symptoms.
If you grind your teeth when you're stressed, you may need a special mouth guard to help protect your teeth from further wear. In addition to being worn down by constant friction, you can also experience tooth fractures from the excessive force you use to grind them. A mouth guard can help protect your teeth while you sleep so you can wake up feeling refreshed instead of sore.
Stress can cause dry mouth, which can result in cavities. This is because less saliva results in decreased oral acidity and can help neutralize acids in the mouth that can cause tooth decay. Decreased salivary flow also decreases the body's ability to naturally wash away bacteria that can lead to unwanted plaque and tartar buildups. This puts patients at a higher risk of gum disease.
The temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, is the hinge that connects your jaw to your skull. It can become inflamed and cause pain when suffering from stress. This pain can impact your ability to eat and chew food properly. It also affects other daily tasks, such as talking, yawning, and even smiling!
When experiencing these symptoms, it's important to visit your dentist immediately for relief. Solutions may include medication, physical therapy, dietary changes, or wearing a mouth guard at night to prevent teeth grinding. Regular visits to the dentist can identify any small problems before they become major issues that impact your oral health.
To learn more, request an appointment here: https://familydentistrypeoria.com or call Peoria Family Dentistry at 623-552-4665 for an appointment in our Peoria office.