How Stress May Affect Your Oral Health

How Stress May Affect Your Oral Health

Posted by Robert Astles on Nov 10 2022, 05:37 AM

How Stress May Affect Your Oral Health

Stress is a common problem that affects people of all ages. It can be caused by personal issues or life events, such as divorce, the death of a loved one, or a major move. It can have both long and short-term effects on your oral and overall health.

Stress can be a major cause of oral health problems and can both cause them and exacerbate existing issues.

When the body is stressed, it responds by activating the “fight or flight” response. This triggers several different physiological reactions in the body that prepare it for action in an emergency. The fight-or-flight response also releases stress hormones like cortisol into the bloodstream and increases the heart rate. The body responds to these signals by increasing blood flow to major muscle groups and diverting it to the respiratory system as well. Blood flow to the digestive system is decreased, which can cause nausea and other gastrointestinal distress.

Because this stress response is mainly physical in nature, people often don’t realize that stress can affect their oral health. However, the mouth is particularly sensitive to these changes due to all of the blood vessels found there. As a result, people who experience stress may have a different response to dental treatments than those who don’t have the same stressors in their lives.

The Link Between Stress and Oral Health

There are several reasons why you may be experiencing tooth sensitivity or pain when exposed to stress. First, research has linked stress with an increase in cortisol in the body, which can contribute to dry mouth. When your mouth is dry, it’s more difficult for the soft tissues in your mouth to remineralize and heal after being exposed to acids and bacteria from foods and drinks. Also, when you’re stressed, you’re more likely to clench your jaw muscles tightly, which could wear down the tooth enamel or cause your teeth to become sensitive as a result. 

In addition, when under stress, people may neglect to properly care for their teeth. They may skip brushing and flossing or put off going to the dentist altogether. These behaviors can lead to the buildup of plaque on the teeth, which can increase the risk of tooth decay. Cavities can cause pain, sensitivity, and problems with chewing and eating.

If gum disease is present, it can also impact the overall health of the patient. Gum disease has been linked to an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and numerous other health conditions. Taking steps to manage stress levels can help to prevent the development of gum disease and improve overall health.

While you can’t necessarily avoid stressful situations altogether, you can work to reduce how frequently they occur. Find healthy ways to cope with stress, such as exercising, meditating, journaling, and practicing deep breathing. You may also want to avoid unhealthy coping mechanisms like smoking, drinking too much alcohol, or consuming sugary foods, as these can cause issues with your oral health as well. Review this guide on ways to reduce anxiety for more tips, and find a dentist who can work with you to diagnose and treat any dental health problems you may have as a result of stress.

To learn more about ways to tackle stress affecting oral health, visit Dr. Robert Astles at 963 37th Pl, Vero Beach, FL 32960. Contact us at 772.562.5700 or visit our website for further information. 

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