How Stress Affects Your Oral Health

shutterstock_249949852Did you know that April is Stress Awareness Month? Unfortunately, stress is an increasing issue for nearly everyone these days, regardless of age. While you may be nodding your head in agreement, you may not realize the effect that stress has on your overall health. Not only can it cause insomnia, digestive issues, and skin problems – but it can also damage your teeth. In fact, stress can lead to several dental conditions such as; gum disease, bruxism, TMJ disorder, and even more. So, how does stress contribute to each of these complications? Let’s take a closer look.

Gum Disease & Tooth Decay

Scientific studies have actually shown that emotional stress can compromise your immune system. When your immune system isn’t working as efficiently as it should be, it’s much easier for you to contract dangerous infections – such as gum disease and tooth decay.

Bruxism & TMJ Disorder

Many people cope with stress in different ways, although sometimes, it may be a subconscious behavior. When you feel stressed, it often leads to muscle tension throughout your body. Tense muscles (especially in your neck, face, and jaw) can cause unfortunate dental conditions like bruxism or TMJ disorder. In fact, emotional stress is one of the leading contributing factors to these conditions.

What Can You Do?

There are a number of different coping strategies you can try to relieve your stress – you may even benefit from a stress relief therapy for a while. However if you’re grinding, to protect your teeth during these stressful times, your dentist may recommend a custom made appliance to wear at night. On the other hand, to prevent infections, you may need to increase the frequency of your dental visits or improve your oral hygiene.

If you’re dealing with stress, don’t hesitate to contact your dentist – there may be preventive measures they can help you with to optimize your oral health!