While stress can be caused from all kinds of factors and situations, it takes the same toil on our bodies over time if it goes unchecked. Stress is known for its impact on the heart, metabolism, gut and other major systems of our bodies – but did you know that stress can also affect your mouth. In fact, when stress levels stay high, your oral health can be compromised in many ways. It is important to recognize these symptoms so that you know when to slow down and protect your smile.
Dental Health Concerns Linked to Stress
Mouth sores, such as fever blisters or canker sores, can be a byproduct of emotional stress. The herpes simplex virus directly causes fever blisters, but emotional upsets and stress are common triggers for an outbreak. Canker sores tend to erupt when the immune system is lowered and we know that a stressed-out body is less capable of fighting off viruses and germs.
Gum Disease and Decay
While stress doesn’t directly cause a cavity or gingivitis, there are some common habits associated with a stressed out routine that can lead to these oral health conditions. When you are stressed, do you tend to skip your oral hygiene tasks? Maybe you fall asleep on the couch while you are studying for a big test and skip brushing your teeth. Others may rely on sugary snacks to keep them energized throughout the day. These are habits that invite extra plaque and acids in the mouth, which eventually lead to decay and gum disease if your tooth brushing efforts are not up to par.
One of the first places that many patients experience stress is the jaw joint, or TMJ. Stress tends to cause subconscious habits that involve your jaw, including grinding or clenching your teeth either during the day or while you sleep. Many individuals chew a pencil, bite their nails or chomp on ice when they are in a tense situation. Unfortunately, these habits put tremendous pressure on the TMJ. Over time, you may suffer from jaw pain, jaw stiffness or headaches.
Relax and See Your Dentist
That work deadline, family illness or hard financial situation may not be avoidable. However, our team at Topsfield Smiles encourages patients to recognize the harmful ways in which your stress can impact your dental health. While we recommend finding ways throughout your day to relax your mind and body, we also have the expertise and resources it takes to keep your smile healthy during stressful seasons of life. Call our Topsfield dental clinic today to schedule your appointment.