April is National Stress Awareness Month, held to raise awareness of the impact of stress on mental health. At Ten Dental, we believe mental health should be treated with the same consideration as physical health; after all, the mind and body are intricately linked.
Stress is a natural part of life, and it affects everyone differently. From a physical perspective, it can trigger a variety of health issues, including high blood pressure, heart disease, and obesity. However, what many people may not realize is that stress can take a toll on their oral health too.
In this blog, we’ll help you to understand the links between stress and oral health and share some tips to help you reduce your stress levels to improve the health of your mouth.
What oral health issues can be triggered by stress?
1. Teeth grinding
One of the most common dental issues associated with stress is bruxism, which is the medical term for teeth grinding. Bruxism typically occurs at night when a person is asleep, and they may not even realize they are doing it. However, over time, it can cause significant damage to their teeth, jaw, and even their facial muscles.
Bruxism can be caused by a variety of factors, including stress, anxiety, and sleep disorders. When a person is stressed, their body tends to hold onto that tension, which can lead to clenching and grinding of the teeth.
We offer composite bonding and veneers treatment to help repair worn teeth and disguise chips, cracks, and rough edges of teeth. Visit our website to learn more about how these simple, non-invasive cosmetic dental treatments could help you.
2. TMJ Disorder
Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) is a condition that affects the joint that connects the jawbone to the skull. It can cause pain and discomfort in the jaw, face, neck, and even the ears. Stress can be a significant factor in the development of TMJ disorder because it can cause the facial muscles to tense up, leading to muscle fatigue and inflammation.
3. Gum disease
Stress can also impact your body’s immune system, leading to gum disease. Gum disease is a bacterial infection that can cause inflammation and bleeding in the gums. It’s caused by poor oral hygiene, but stress can also play a role.
When you are stressed, your body produces more cortisol, a hormone that can weaken your immune system. This weakened immune system can make it harder for your body to fight off bacterial infections, such as gum disease.
Ulcers are small, painful lumps that can develop in the mouth. They are not contagious and usually go away within a few days. While the exact cause of ulcers is unknown, stress is a contributing factor.
When you’re stressed, their immune system may become weak, making it easier for viruses and bacteria to enter the body. These viruses and bacteria can irritate the lining of the mouth, leading to the development of ulcers.
5. Dry Mouth
Stress can also cause dry mouth, which is a condition where the mouth does not produce enough saliva. Saliva is essential for keeping the mouth moist, and it also helps to neutralise acids that can cause tooth decay.
When a person is stressed, their body produces less saliva, which can lead to dry mouth. Dry mouth can cause a variety of issues, including bad breath, tooth decay, and gum disease.
How can you reduce stress levels?
If you’ve experienced any of the above issues, they could be triggered by stress. We know stress is difficult to prevent or get rid of completely, but there are some steps you can take to ease these feelings. Here are five ways to combat stress and improve your oral health:
- Incorporate relaxation techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, or yoga into your daily routine. These techniques can help you feel calmer and reduce stress.
- Exercise is a great stress reliever and can help improve your overall health. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise, such as brisk walking or jogging, most days of the week.
- Adequate sleep reduces sleep and improves overall health. Try to get at least seven to eight hours of sleep per night.
- A well-balanced diet can help reduce stress and improve overall health, including oral health. Choose foods low in sugar and high in vitamins and minerals, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins.
How can we help?
Whilst our expert dentists can’t fix the issues that might be causing you stress or concern, they can help you tackle the oral health after-effects. Your first step is to visit us for an examination – we’ll thoroughly check your mouth and identify any problems.
Then, we’ll give you oral health advice and recommend the best course of treatment – whether it’s a hygiene visit, restorative or cosmetic dental treatment, or anything else you might need.
We’re now welcoming new patients! Book a consultation at one of our friendly South West London practices today.