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Taking care of your teeth means more than just brushing and flossing. You also have to watch your stress levels. Stress and oral health have several connections.
Consequently, when you have too much stress in your life, the health of your teeth and gums can suffer. Find out how Langley Dental Care can help you to beat the effects of stress on your mouth and keep your oral health at its best for life.
How Are Stress and Oral Health Intertwined?
Stress plays a role in the health of your whole body. Therefore, it’s not surprising that it can also impact the health of the tissues, teeth, and gums inside your mouth.
Stress puts the body into a “fight or flight” mode. The heart rate increases, the muscles tense, and your body prepare for action. This status keeps you on edge if you need to act, such as being confronted by a wild animal. While it can help if you have an emergency to deal with, it does not help you when you don’t have a pressing problem that you can deal with.
In modern society, people often feel stressed from work, financial, or relationship obligations or problems. Since these don’t require a physical response of running or fighting, the body stays in its heightened state. That’s why exercise is so good at relieving stress. It releases the pent-up energy the body has, allowing it to relax and return to a normal state.
Over time, chronic stress can manifest in several ways. Some people may experience stomach problems or tense muscles. Others may experience teeth grinding or other oral health issues.
Many different oral health conditions have direct links to mental stress. These include acute and chronic problems. Therefore, controlling stress can help protect your smile.
What Problems Does Stress Cause or Worsen in the Mouth?
Several issues have a direct link to stress. For example, cold sores caused by the herpes simplex virus HSV-1 can appear during times of stress. This condition flares due to a reduction in the immune system’s actions to fight off the appearance of the sores.
Similarly, gum disease can also occur during times of stress because the body’s immune function decreases. You could notice bleeding when brushing or flossing as an early sign of gingivitis and developing gum disease. Gum disease will only worsen without periodontal treatment from a dental professional.
Teeth grinding (bruxism), especially at night, has a direct link to stress levels. It can lead to cracked, chipped, or worn teeth, tooth sensitivity, and worn enamel without treatment. Some people find lasting relief when they reduce stress in their lives. However, to reduce damage to the teeth, a nightguard provides a more immediate solution.
Bruxism left untreated can sometimes lead to TMJ disorder marked by swelling, popping, and pain in the jaw. Like teeth grinding, TMJ needs attention to prevent damage to the teeth and ease the pain.
Getting help from a dentist can keep some of these problems from creating even bigger issues with your oral health.
How Can a Dentist Help a Patient with Stress and Oral Health Issues?
Regular dental cleanings and checkups can spot signs of gum disease in the early stages when treatment is easier. Plus, a dentist can recommend ways to stop grinding your teeth or offer options for night guards.
When it comes to correcting problems caused by stress, dentists can help, too. You should see your primary care doctor for cold sores if they don’t clear on their own in a few days. However, if you have cracked teeth or worn enamel from teeth grinding, see a dentist. Depending on the level of damage, you may need restorative dental fixtures, such as crowns or cosmetic options, such as veneers, over the teeth to cover the damage.
However, the corrections to your oral health your dentist makes will only last as long as you don’t have the same problems from stress. Therefore, you should find ways to mitigate stress in your life to help your oral health.
Ways to Ease Stress in Your Life
Due to the links between stress and oral health, you should find ways to learn to relax and reduce stress. Possible stress reducers to try and includes the following:
- Yoga or stretching
- Finding a new hobby
- Spending time with friends
- Learning to delegate tasks at work and home
- Talk therapy with a professional psychologist or therapist
- Anti-anxiety medication if your doctor or psychiatrist recommends it
You don’t have to do everything above to reduce stress. However, find some ways in your life to release some of the build-up tension in your body and mind. Doing so can help improve the health of your entire body.
Methods to Improve Oral Health Care
To protect your oral health, reducing stress is good. However, you should also take care of your teeth and gums. Schedule appointments for dental cleanings twice a year, or however often your dentist recommends them. If you have a problem with your mouth, see your dentist immediately. Don’t wait. Tooth pain will not correct itself.
Between visits to your dentist, brush twice daily and floss. Flossing helps keep your gums healthy and removes food that can cause cavities between your teeth. Even if you don’t think that you have the time, flossing is one oral hygiene step you shouldn’t skip.
With good oral health care habits, you can protect your mouth from problems even during times of stress.
Set an Appointment with Langley Dental Care in Charlotte, NC, for Help with Stress and Oral Health Concerns
Regardless of your stress levels, keep up with your dental health care. Partner with us at Langley Dental Care in Charlotte, NC, for just that. Contact us to make an appointment or if you have any questions about us. We offer dental care for all ages and needs. Don’t wait for your stress to affect the quality of your smile. Let us help you to keep a bright, healthy smile that you can be proud of.