Stress is a part of everyday life in today’s world, and most of the time we can deal with it just fine. But when stress goes on too long, your body will start to suffer the consequences. We’ve known for many years about the stress connection to heart disease and cancer, but did you know stress can cause oral health problems?
Let’s take a look at three of the most common oral health concerns that have been shown to have direct links to stress. Dr. Rick has diagnosed and treated these conditions for many people who have dealt with stressful times.
- Teeth grinding
Stress causes some people to grind their teeth (bruxism), especially at night. Symptoms include waking up with headaches, having tooth sensitivity, and wearing down the top of the tooth and the enamel. A special mouth guard can be worn at night to prevent further damage.
- Jaw clenching
If you’re experiencing jaw, neck or ear pain, or your jaw is popping and clicking, stress may be causing you to clench your teeth (temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMD). Clenching causes the jaw and neck muscles to become overused, making it hard to open and close your mouth or bite and chew food.
- Gum disease
When we’re under chronic stress, our immune system becomes compromised and our body can’t fight off infections as easily. This creates the risk of increased bacteria from plaque, causing bleeding and swollen gums, loose teeth, bad breath, and eventual tooth loss. Other problems such as mouth sores, canker sores and dry mouth are also caused or affected by stress. Your regular dental exam at our north Scottsdale dentist office can help reduce or avoid potential oral health problems from stress.
Children suffer from stress and oral health problems
Stress affects children’s oral health, too. Parents should be aware of changes in a child’s behavior, especially following stressful life events. Children may start eating more sugary foods that lead to cavities, let personal grooming and teeth brushing slide, start grinding or clenching teeth, or revert to thumb sucking. Parents should also be aware of the effect of their own stress on children’s dental care. Make sure to continue helping children maintain good brushing and flossing habits, and keep up children’s regular family dentist appointments to help them enjoy a lifetime of strong, healthy teeth.
Routine dental exams can identify stress-related conditions in the early stages
Dentists are often able to detect stress through routine oral health exams. While you’re working on ways to reduce or eliminate the stress, be sure to continue your six-month dental appointments at Dr. Rick Dentistry in north Scottsdale. We’ll help you keep your healthy smile!