Stressed Out? Don't Let It Impact Your Dental Health

Posted on: 10 January 2017

Most people become a bit stressed from time to time. Whether it's the worries associated with pressure at work or concerns about family matters at upcoming holiday celebrations, it's important not to let this stress get the best of you. This is particularly true when it comes to your oral health. Stress can have several negative impacts on oral health, but, thankfully, there are easy ways to combat all of them.

Tooth Grinding

Many people, when they are stressed out, end up grinding their teeth late at night. They may not realize they're doing this until their partner informs them of it—or until they wake up with a sore jaw.

Tooth grinding can have lasting negative effects on dental health. It can wear down the enamel, leading to tooth sensitivity and an increased risk of cavities. It can also irritate the temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, leading to jaw pain and difficulty chewing.

The best way to stop tooth grinding during period of high stress is to have your dentist fit you with a mouth guard. Wear the guard at night—it will form a barrier between your teeth to prevent grinding.

Jaw Clenching

Some people find themselves clenching their jaws in the middle of the day. Similar to tooth grinding, this can wear down the teeth and irritate the TMJ. If you catch yourself clenching your jaw during the day, try these measures to eliminate the habit:

  • Grab a stress ball and start squeezing it whenever you feel stressed or notice your jaw tightening.
  • Chew sugar-free gum to keep your mouth busy and moving.
  • Have friends and family members periodically remind you not to clench your jaw.

Impaired Immunity

Stress tends to weaken the immune system. When this happens, your body is less able to fight off the bacteria that cause tooth decay and gum disease. You can help yourself out by kicking your brushing and flossing routine into high gear during periods of high stress. Also, try to get as much sleep as possible and eat plenty of fruits and veggies to help your immune system out.

If you've been facing a lot of stress lately, it's a good idea to see your dentist for a checkup. They can ensure the stress is not having a negative impact on your oral health. If they do notice any signs of stress-related damage, they'll help you manage the condition now before it gets worse.