How can stress affect your oral health?

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On-going stress problems have been linked to various health problems, both mentally and physically. Stress can lead to long lasting conditions, such as obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and diabetes. It can also cause severe mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. So how can stress affect your teeth? What are the problems caused for your teeth through stress? How can the damage through on-going stress be lowered? In this article, we will look at these issues and possible solutions for them.

 

How is stress linked to oral health

A large number of scientific data and papers were reviewed dating from 1990 to 2006, which revealed a lot of insight into this matter.

Of all the papers reviewed, 57% of them present a clear link between stress, anxiety and depression to periodontal disease, (better known as an advanced stage of gum disease.)  Periodontal disease occurs when the tooth and gum are both being eroded, increasing the chance of tooth loss occurring.

 

Gum disease

Gum disease is often overlooked by many people; however, the effects of this disease shouldn’t be underestimated, with the disease leading to serious health problems such as loss of teeth, and increasing the risk of heart problems and diabetes.

The pain caused from ailments such as gum disease can be very apparent, such as bleeding gums, jaw pain and tooth ache. This pain is very hard to ignore, and can exacerbate the stress you are under already.

The soft tissue found on gums and inside the mouth are often very good indicators of a person’s health. Reoccurring ulcers are signs that someone may be under too much stress and that their mouth is as a result.

 

Bruxism

When coping with stress, we often find ourselves fidgeting or not being able to keep still, and this is very apparent with bruxism. Bruxism is the name for excessive grinding of the teeth, and it is directly linked to stress. Bruxism is commonly an impact from excessive strain on facial muscles, leading to the wearing down of teeth and having very detrimental effects on your oral health.

Effects of stress on lifestyle

People experiencing a lot of stress can develop mental health issues, such as depression or anxiety. These can have a huge effect on an individual’s lifestyle, and this often leads to poor lifestyle changes. These changes can manifest in different ways, but a common symptom is a certain apathy towards personal hygiene, including skipping brushing and flossing.

Eating poorly or having a bad diet is another effect of stress, through impulse snacking and binging, you are increasing the risk of developing cavities and gum disease.

Stress can also induce excessive smoking and drinking, which affects your oral health, as well as the rest of your body. Statistically speaking, a shocking 90% of oral cancer cases are found in people who chew or smoke tobacco. Not only this, but smokers are up to six times more likely to suffer from gum disease, as it weakens the immune system and damages the soft tissue within your mouth.

Combining excessive smoking with drinking only makes your risk of developing health problems even greater. The effects of consuming these narcotics is not always apparent at first, which can lead to more usage and increase the damage that has already been done.

Due to this, it is important to watch what you do whilst under stress, and try to curb any detrimental habits bought on because of it.

 

How to resolve these issues

Keeping on top of your oral health is similar to how you would deal with stress – one step at a time. Make sure you have a routine of brushing before you go to bed and when you wake up. You will then find this becomes second nature, and much easier to do automatically.

Once you have a stable routine in place, try implementing other oral hygiene techniques into it, such as flossing and mouth wash. After all, having a clean mouth just means having one less thing to worry about.

Cutting out bad habits is a hard thing to do, especially when you have addictive substances entwined in your everyday life, such as smoking, coffee and drinking. Whilst these can relieve stress, they are doing your body a lot of harm, and you would benefit so much more from limiting or cutting these habits out of your life entirely.

Give yourself time to adjust to the changes made in your lifestyle, as this takes time to accomplish. By taking small but consistent steps to improving you and your lifestyle, you will notice an improvement in mood and discover more productive ways to deal with stress.

 

If you are looking for advice regarding oral health, why not contact Loughborough dentists today, to see how we can help you?

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