You may already be aware of stress’ side effects, from headaches and stomach pains to high blood pressure and an increased risk of serious illnesses (including heart disease). Because of the wide range of concerns stress can generate regarding your physical wellbeing, its influence on your oral health is not as often discussed. To help raise awareness of stress’ threat to your oral health, we explore how it can negatively affect the integrity of your teeth, gums, and other oral tissues.
How Stress Manifests in Your Smile
Even if you possess the world’s straightest poker face, your dentist can tell when stress is affecting your life. Some dental symptoms that often occur due to high stress levels include:
- Excessive tooth wear—One of the more common dental effects of stress is bruxism, or the habit of grinding your teeth. Most of us tend to clench our teeth once in a while, usually when angered, annoyed, or otherwise antagonized. Prolonged periods of uncontrolled stress, however, can cause you to constantly grind your teeth, often at night in your sleep. The constant grinding can wear down your chewing surfaces, possibly affecting your bite’s alignment and bringing with it a host of serious oral health issues.
- TMJ Disorder—The joints that connect your lower jaw (mandible) to your skull are called temporomandibular joints, or TMJs. Tension caused by stress, as well as the pressure of bruxism, can cause damage these joints by overworking them. The resulting discomfort of these injured joints is known as TMJ disorder.
- Dry mouth—Also known as xerostomia, dry mouth refers to a condition where your salivary glands do not produce enough saliva. Dry mouth is a common symptom of stress-related health complications, and it is also a side effect of some medications for such disorders (i.e., anxiety, depression, etc.).
Relieve Stress and Take Care of Your Oral Health
While stress is not always easily overcome, it is important to focus on healthy coping methods and to remember the importance of keeping your mouth clean and healthy. To learn more, schedule a consultation with your dentist by calling Syosset Dental in Syosset, NY today at 516-433-2211 or 516-921-1678.