How Do My Stress Levels Affect My Teeth?

Published on August 2, 2016 | Dental Tips

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High stress wreaks havoc on your body and your immune system. That includes your oral health. Stress causes behavioral issues and immune problems that negatively affect your teeth.

Stress Hurts Your Habits

When people experience stress and anxiety, many of them drop healthy habits and replace them with unhealthy ones. This may mean you stop eating healthful foods and go for the sugar instead. It may mean you can’t be bothered to do your morning or nightly routine, which includes brushing, flossing, and rinsing with mouthwash. University studies have shown that high-stress situations may increase the likelihood that you develop gum disease, which makes maintaining your oral health more important than ever.

No matter how stressed you are, don’t give up on your oral hygiene. You need to brush twice a day for two minutes each session, which is only four minutes of your day. Pair it with another activity that you enjoy, like listening to a favorite song, or simply remind yourself that having to go to the dentist to get a cavity filled will make your stress even worse.

Stress Contributes to Canker Sores

Canker sores are typically white or gray ulcers that show up inside your mouth or on your gums. Canker sores aren’t the same as cold sores; they aren’t contagious, and as far as doctors know, the herpes virus doesn’t have anything to do with causing them. If you’ve

ever had a canker sore, you know how painful they are and how long they can last.

Though doctors don’t know exactly what causes canker sores, stress is definitely a leading suspect. Treat your canker sores by rinsing your mouth with warm salt water, which will help kill bacteria and provide some pain relief in your mouth. You may also want to buy an over-the-counter cream or paste that you apply directly to the sore to help it clear up faster.

Stress Causes Teeth Grinding

How often have you found yourself in a stressful or frustrating situation, only to realize your jaw is aching because you’ve been clenching or grinding your teeth? Often, people react unconsciously to stress and anxiety by clenching their jaw muscles and grinding their teeth together. Teeth grinding, known scientifically as bruxism, is terrible for tooth enamel and can cause tooth sensitivity.

If you don’t catch yourself actually grinding your teeth, look for some of the signs. If your jaw consistently aches, especially after you’ve been stressed or upset, you may be grinding your teeth. If your teeth look flat on top, that’s another sign. Next time you’re feeling anger, frustration, anxiety, or stress, take a moment to pay attention to what you’re doing with your teeth.

The ideal way to fix these issues is to rid yourself of stress, but sometimes it’s not easy to deal with and eliminate the causes. When you’re having a rough time emotionally, remember to take better care of yourself. Focus on staying healthy, which includes maintaining a good oral hygiene routine.

Image via Flickr by Michael Stern

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