Stress not only manifests mental symptoms but physical symptoms too. These issues are often oral, and some of the common stress-related problems people experience with their mouths include:
- Teeth cracking or even breaking due to clenching
- Teeth grinding that leads to TMJ dysfunction
- Increased prevalence of cold sores and canker sores
- Diminished attention paid to regular oral hygiene
Cracked or Broken Teeth
A common way that people deal with stress is to clench or grind their teeth. Often, this symptom occurs unconsciously while a person sleeps, which is a condition known as sleep bruxism. Persistent bruxism can wear down teeth over time, but the forces can be enough to crack or even break teeth.
Excessive Teeth Grinding Can Lead to TMJ Dysfunction
TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint, which is the joint that connects your jawbone to your skull. While occasional or light clenching or grinding may not cause permanent damage, it can put a great deal of strain on your TMJ over time. This can lead to TMD, which stands for TMJ dysfunction or disorder. TMD is a painful condition that can disrupt chewing, talking, yawning, and many other activities.
More Frequent Mouth Sores
Canker sores and cold sores are more common when under stress. It is theorized that stress compromises your immune system, which makes you more prone to viruses and bacteria. Although relatively minor, these sores can diminish the quality of life when they recur on a frequent basis.
Diminished Oral Health Due to Poor Oral Hygiene
Stress can cause a person to be less vigilant about oral hygiene. This is often a reflexive response to feeling overwhelmed. Skipping a dental appointment or regular brushing or flossing here or there may not seem like a big deal, but it can be, and it will most certainly catch up with you sooner than later. It can lead to gum disease and cavities, which can spin out of control if left untreated.
How to Avoid Stress-Related Oral Health Issues
It is important to recognize that oral health issues are a symptom of stress. You may be able to treat a symptom, but it may recur if you do not deal with the underlying problem. Stress happens to us all, but it is very important that you manage that stress in a proactive and positive manner.
Each person is different, but some common effective techniques to manage stress include:
- Regular exercise—Exercise exhilarates and relaxes, and so counteracts the effects of stress.
- Relaxation techniques—You can also relax through meditation and deep breathing.
- Sleep well—People who do not get enough sleep are much more prone to stress and its effects.
- Eat well—Eat a well-balanced diet, which will enhance your well-being mentally and physically.
- Therapy—If you are unable to manage stress on your own, counseling can make a big difference.
Routine dental checkups are integral to your health. You can manifest symptoms due to unmanaged stress and not even recognize the problem. Your dentist may be able to provide that early diagnosis. Dentists can often recognize the signs of bruxism and gum disease before any real damage occurs. A proactive approach helps people to avoid some of the most common health issues in life.
Take Control of Your Stress
If you believe that stress is having a negative impact on your oral health, discuss it with your dentist. Jeffrey D. Clark, DDS, can also identify telltale signs, such as teeth grinding, during an exam. Together, you can explore ways to get your stress under control and protect your oral health. Call Scottsdale Dental Excellence today at 480 585 1853 to schedule your appointment.