Can Stress Affect Oral Health?

Can Stress Affect Oral Health?

Posted by Dr. Kossi on May 16 2023, 06:37 AM

Can Stress Affect Oral Health?

You likely know that stress can affect your mental health, but did you know that it can also affect your dental health? Research shows that when you’re under stress, your body releases more adrenaline and cortisol, which are hormones that increase the speed at which your mouth produces bacteria, causing acid to build up in your mouth and potentially leading to gum disease. If you’re experiencing a lot of stress in your life, talk to your dentist about ways to reduce it.

Aside from affecting your overall health, stress can also affect the appearance of your smile. Teeth grinding is a common problem for people who suffer from chronic stress. If you don’t address teeth grinding, it can cause permanent damage to your teeth and jaw, as well as headaches and pain in your face or neck. If you think you might be grinding your teeth at night, talk to your dentist about a mouth guard to wear while you sleep. It will prevent damage to your teeth and protect your oral health.

How Stress Affects You

The two primary ways stress affects your oral health are by causing you to neglect your oral hygiene or by wearing down your immune system.

If you have a busy work schedule or a family to take care of, it’s easy to find yourself brushing your teeth less than you should or skipping out on flossing altogether. This can hurt your ability to prevent tooth decay because plaque buildup is the cause of cavities. Plaque builds up when food particles remain on your teeth after you finish eating. Brushing regularly helps remove leftover food and plaque from the surface of your teeth and the areas between teeth. Without regular brushing, you risk allowing this plaque to remain on the surface of your teeth, where it eventually hardens into tartar, increasing your risk for cavities.

The other way stress can impact your oral health is via its effects on the immune system. Stress causes your body to release more cortisol than it should, which suppresses your immune system’s ability to fight infection. Because your gums are susceptible to infection, if you experience frequent high levels of stress, your body may not be able to adequately fight off the bacteria in plaque that can cause gum disease. Because of this, if you are frequently under stress, you are at a higher risk of developing gum disease.

How To Combat the Effects of Stress 

While there are many ways to reduce general stress, there are also some things you can do specifically to protect your oral health from excessive levels of stress. For one thing, it’s important to practice good oral hygiene habits like brushing and flossing every day. That way, you can minimize the amount of plaque that builds up on your teeth. Plaque can cause tooth decay and a host of other problems, but it can also make it hard to brush away when stress levels are high. That’s because stress causes you to sweat more, which makes it harder for your mouth to stay clean and healthy. So be sure to keep up with daily brushing and flossing to prevent this consequence.

Another way to reduce the harm done by stress on oral health is to reduce your consumption of sugary foods and beverages. Bacteria thrive on sugar – it’s their favorite food! By limiting your sugar intake, you reduce your risk of allowing these bacteria to thrive in your mouth and cause decay or other problems with your oral health.

And as always, be sure to visit your dentist on a regular basis for cleanings and checkups. These appointments are your best opportunity to reverse any problems that might be developing due to the effects of stress on oral health. Your dentist can also help you find other ways to manage stress in your life so you can keep these benefits going for years to come.

Schedule a consultation with Dr. Kossi, DDS, at Smile City Dental in Santa Clarita, California, to learn more tips for maintaining a healthy smile. You can reach us by calling (661) 252-8888, scheduling an appointment online, or visiting us at 19366 Soledad Canyon Rd, Santa Clarita, CA 91351 now.

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