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The Surprising Impact of Chronic Stress on Oral Health

December 27, 2023

Filed under: Uncategorized — drsmith @ 2:59 pm
a stressed person sitting at a desk

Stress can manifest in a variety of ways for different people. Some may experience physical symptoms, like getting headaches or dealing with an upset stomach, while others may notice a more emotional impact. In any case, stress can impact the body in a variety of different ways and is a natural and important human response; however, when the scale tips to chronic stress, which is recurring or persistent, you may find that it can have more of an impact on your body than you thought. What many people aren’t aware of is that several known oral health problems have been linked to chronic stress. Read on to learn more about what these issues are.

How are Chronic Stress & Oral Health Connected?

Stress can arise in your life for a variety of reasons and is a human response that’s triggered whenever there is a perceived challenge or threat in your life. People can feel stressed about a variety of different life events and struggles, from paying bills to taking an important final exam, but it’s chronic stress that can have a deep impact on your health.

The biological response of stress is to produce more adrenaline and cortisol, which is actually an immune system suppressor. When stress is ever-present, or chronic, it can lead to excess cortisol in the body, which could impact your gum health by putting you at a higher risk of oral infections like periodontal disease. Chronic stress can also lead to physical impacts, like teeth grinding, which can also cause oral deterioration.

The Impact Chronic Stress Can Have on Your Smile

While the connection between chronic stress and oral health problems isn’t definitive, there are studies that have linked high and persistent levels of stress to several dental concerns. The excessive bodily tension and cortisol that stress can bring can increase your risk of:

  • Teeth Grinding (Bruxism): Teeth grinding and clenching can not only wear down your protective tooth enamel, but it can also put you at a higher risk of chipping or otherwise damaging a tooth. It can also lead to TMJ disorder, which is a condition that impacts your temporomandibular joints that connect your jaw to your skull.
  • Gum Disease: Gum disease is one of the most common oral health problems in the world as well as a top cause for tooth loss. It’s an infection that breaks down the supportive structure of your teeth (the hard and soft oral tissues) when left untreated.
  • Canker Sores: Stress can trigger canker sores on the tongue, the cheeks and lips, and on the roof of the mouth.

Improving Your Oral Health with Stress Management

Managing your stress is much easier said than done. In fact, it often requires learning a variety of techniques and implementing them in your life over time, like meditation, deep breathing, and building a good support system. Once you do, maintaining a healthy smile will be much easier.

In the meantime, it’s crucial to visit your dentist every six months for checkups and cleanings and to stay on top of your at-home routine. Brushing twice a day for two minutes, flossing daily, and rinsing with mouthwash will help minimize your risk of certain stress-related dental concerns, like gum disease, and give you the peace of mind that you’re doing everything you can for your smile.

About the Practice

At 21st Century Dental of Irving, our team is comprised of four highly skilled and passionate dentists, Drs. Kent Smith, Jeff Roy, Ashley Bristow, and Allison Veytsman. With their expertise combined, patients are able to experience truly comprehensive dentistry, from same-day emergency appointments to effective gum disease prevention and control. For questions or to schedule an appointment, visit our website or call 972-255-3712.

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