Stress is a normal part of life. However, when a person experiences too much stress, it can lead to health issues. Stress can affect all areas of the body, including the mouth. When you feel stressed out, your body releases stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones can cause a number of problems in your body.
Your mouth isn’t immune to these effects, either. In fact, a study published in the Journal of Psychophysiology found that consistent or frequent stress is a risk factor for periodontal disease. This is because stress slows the body’s ability to fight infection. This means that plaque and bacteria can build up in your mouth more easily. This puts you at greater risk of tooth decay and even tooth loss.
Some stressors are unavoidable and out of your control, but you must learn to manage these situations so your oral health doesn’t suffer as a result. Other sources of stress you can control include not smoking or using tobacco products, eating a healthy diet that’s rich in fruits and vegetables, and avoiding sugary foods and drinks. Aside from being bad for your general health, these foods can increase your risk of tooth decay, gum disease, and other oral health issues because sugar feeds the bad bacteria in your mouth. Reducing your stress levels can help to keep these bad things from happening in the first place.
Stress can come from many different sources in our lives. While it’s impossible to avoid all stressful situations, there are ways to manage stress and anxiety so that it does not affect your dental health negatively.
Poor sleep quality is a common symptom of stress for many people. Whether you’re lying awake with worry or tossing and turning due to muscle tension and pain, you’re not getting enough rest. This lack of quality sleep can lead to increased production of cortisol and adrenaline within the body, which, in turn, can increase plaque and bacteria buildup in the mouth. These substances use those hormones as fuel to increase the rate of tooth decay and cause gum disease. In the long run, this results in an increased need for dental treatments.
Stress can also cause people to grind their teeth during sleep. This leads to even further damage to the teeth as well as muscles in the jaw and face. Grinding the teeth often causes headaches and TMJ disorder, both of which can also result in the need for extra dental care services.
It’s recommended that you see your dentist regularly so that you can have a professional cleaning and exam every six months. Seeing the dentist will help you catch problems early when they are easier to treat, and you’ll also be able to get recommendations from your doctor about how to manage your stress effectively.
A dentist can also help with stress and anxiety by recommending relaxation techniques that you can do on your own at home. This can include meditation, deep breathing exercises, and even a warm bath before bed. By reducing the levels of stress hormones in the body, you can help improve your health and reduce the risk of decay and tooth loss.
To learn more, please schedule an appointment online or call All Smiles Family Dentistry at (319) 553-3085 to have a consultation with Dr. Jennifer A. Stevenson or Dr. Sarah Cyr, and we will be happy to help.