Stress and Oral Health

Stress is linked to a number of systemic health issues including obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and heart attack. Some studies suggest stress exacerbates the greying of hair, produces wrinkles, and causes other general aesthetic issues as well. In addition to all of these things, stress can seriously damage teeth and gums, which makes dealing with stress a key part of your overall oral health routine.

If you believe you are experiencing stress-related oral health issues, please contact Woodlands Premier Dentistry online or by calling (281) 367-5559 today to schedule an examination at our Houston-area office.

Stress and TMJ

Stress is a leading cause of bruxism (tooth grinding), a problem that can lead to:

  • Loose or shifting teeth
  • Uneven tooth wear
  • Premature tooth loss
  • TMJ

TMJ is a condition that often produces painful symptoms including chronic headaches, lockjaw, and neck and backaches. TMJ can also increase risks for tooth loss and other oral health issues, making prompt treatment very important.

Stress and Gum Disease

Stress can increase risks for gum disease and tooth infection by altering saliva production and makeup, and decreasing immune system response. Many people see their saliva production decrease when they’re stressed. Other times, taking antidepressants or other medications to help deal with symptoms of stress can lead to dry mouth.

Stress hormones also impact your body’s immune response. Chronic stress–when you feel continually stressed for long periods of time–can suppress your immune system. Your body enters a state of chronic inflammation, which includes your gums. Chronic inflammation of the gums can be responsible for their destruction as part of gum disease. Your body may also be less able to fight infection, allowing oral bacteria to do more damage in your mouth and elsewhere in the body.

Some research also suggests that stress can cause a lapse in daily oral care such as brushing and flossing. When you are overwhelmed with all the things you have to do, brushing, flossing, and regular dental visits may be the first things you cut from your routine. speeding rates of decay and increasing risks of infection.

Stress can also impact your eating habits. You may indulge in more sweet treats and other between-meal snacking. You may also drink more alcohol, which can dry out your mouth further and increase your gum disease risk.

The link between chronic stress and gum disease is particularly dangerous because both carry an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. If you are experiencing worse gum disease because of stress, it is vitally important to talk to your dentist and your doctor.

Dealing with Stress

If you are feeling particularly stressed, it is best to develop ways to deal with it. This can include slowing down, taking deep breaths, increasing exercise, and making space for yourself throughout the day.  If you are concerned about the effect stress is having on your oral and systemic health, Dr. Scott Young would be happy to discuss with you stress reduction methods along with enhanced oral care to help protect your teeth and gums against the damages caused by this nearly universal condition.

If you are unable to handle stress on your own, and it begins to impact your oral and overall health, it may be time to seek professional care

To schedule your next appointment with one of our experienced The Woodlands dentists, please call (281) 367-5559 today. Woodlands Premier Dentistry serves patients in The Woodlands, Houston, Kingwood, and surrounding areas of Texas.