Long-term stress can hurt your health both physically and emotionally. But one thing many people don’t know is that stress can also be bad for your teeth and mouth, too. It’s important to pinpoint the causes of and know your body’s early warning signs of stress on your oral health. It’s also smart to take steps to reduce your stress.
Oral Conditions Caused By Stress:
- Jaw issues/ TMJ, or disorders of the jaw joint or chewing muscles. These can cause pain around the ear or face. Swelling or stiffness in these joints can cause a TMJ disorder. Symptoms can include pain, clicking, and popping. Stress is a major cause of TMJ problems. For instance, it can cause you to clench your jaw and grind your teeth.
- Teeth grinding, or bruxism. If you grind your teeth, you probably do it while you sleep. It’s a common oral health problem. It can cause headaches, a sore jaw, and damage to your teeth. Severe teeth grinding can cause loose teeth or even broken or lost teeth. Stress and anxiety are major causes of teeth grinding.
- Cold sores, which are caused by the herpes simplex virus HSV-1. Triggers include vitamin B deficiency and any type of mouth injury or irritation. Several studies now show that stress is another big trigger for canker sores. You may be able to reduce canker sores by reducing stress.
- Nail-Biting, is a stress-related habit that can be harmful to your oral health and your overall health. Nail-biting can move your teeth out of position. It can also damage your teeth. Adding the germs from your fingernails to the germs in your mouth can lead to mouth infections. You can even spread warts from your hands to your mouth. Viruses and bacteria that get picked up on your hands can spread to the rest of your body.
- Burning Mouth is a dry, hot, and burning feeling in your mouth. Stress, anxiety, and depression may be part of the problem. Dry mouth syndrome is more common in women after menopause, so hormone changes may also be involved. Stress-related smoking and drinking can make burning mouth worse.
- Gum Disease, stress can lower your immune system and increase your risk for infection in the mouth, including gum disease.
Way To Reduce Your Symptoms:
It’s important to get to the root of the problem and figure out why you’re stressed. Once you’ve pinpointed the causes, think about how to lower your stress levels. In the meantime, follow these steps to get relief for painful oral symptoms:
- Talk to your dentist about treatment options.
- Address teeth grinding by asking your dentist about getting a custom-fitted night guard. It can be worn at night to prevent tooth damage caused by grinding and clenching. The night guard also creates a cushion to remove stress on your aching muscles and joint tissues.
- Avoid hard or crunchy foods when you’re in pain.
- Manage stress, learning how to reduce stress helps you live a healthier life overall. Identify what stresses you; prioritize your responsibilities at home and work; get at least 7 to 8 hours of restful sleep every night; exercise—every day if possible; and talk about your problems with someone you trust. Seek professional counseling if you find it hard to manage the stress in your life.
- Don’t use with tobacco and alcohol. These products can make your oral symptoms worse.
- Ask about prescription medications. Anti-inflammatory drugs can help the inflammation of the jaw joint. Antiviral drugs may prevent cold sores.
- Avoid the sun or use sunscreen with at least an SPF of 30 to help reduce cold sores.
The reality is, your busy lifestyle may not only wreak havoc on your nerves, but also on your pearly whites. With all, you do to stay happy, be sure to protect your smile so you can show it off! Dentists can detect oral symptoms of stress and to add to the physical manifestations of stress, some anti-anxiety medications can cause dry mouth, acid reflux, or vomiting — all of which can also increase the risk of developing tooth decay. So if you’re feeling tense or anxious, take a deep breath or two, and keep a watchful eye for signs of stress-related disorders.