Do you feel stressed all of the time? After dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic, it can be hard to not feel anxious sometimes. While it’s well-known that chronic stress can take a toll on your physical health (particularly your heart), it can also hinder your oral health. The good news is that, with the right precautions, it doesn’t have to. Continue reading to learn how to keep your smile safe from chronic stress.
How Chronic Stress Can Hurt Your Oral Health
Stress is notorious for impairing the immune system. This can contribute to all sorts of dental health issues, such as:
- Gum disease – When you’re frequently anxious or depressed, your body produces higher levels of a hormone called cortisol. High cortisol levels have been associated with an increased risk for gum disease.
- Bruxism – Another term for chronic teeth grinding, bruxism often occurs while you’re sleeping and thus powerless to stop it. The constant pressure of clenching and grinding can wear down your tooth enamel, making your teeth more susceptible to sensitivity and breakage.
- Burning mouth syndrome – This uncomfortable condition creates a scalding sensation in the lips, the tongue, and the roof of the mouth.
- Canker sores – These small, painful ulcers can develop inside the mouth. Research has suggested that canker sores are more likely to appear when a person is stressed.
Tips for Managing Stress
Relieving stress is definitely easier said than done, but the following tricks might be able to help:
- Get plenty of exercise – Putting physical stress on your body can actually reduce mental stress. In fact, people who exercise regularly are less likely to suffer from chronic anxiety than those who don’t.
- Reduce your caffeine intake – Caffeine is a stimulant that naturally raises your stress levels. It’s fine to start your mornings with a cup of joe, but moderation is key.
- Chew sugar-free gum – Many people chew on their fingernails, ice cubes, pens, or other hard objects when they’re stressed. This habit can chip or crack your teeth. When you get the urge to chew, pop a piece of sugarless gum in your mouth instead.
- Listen to relaxing music – Slow-paced classical or other instrumental music may help you achieve inner calm. Nature sounds also work wonders for some people.
- Talk to your doctor – Your primary care physician can give you personalized tips for managing your stress or refer you to an appropriate mental health professional.
Nobody wants to feel stressed, especially knowing the toll it can take on your oral health. By following the tips above, maintaining a good oral hygiene routine, and visiting your dentist regularly for checkups, you can keep your smile healthy!
About the Author
Dr. J. D. Robison is a third-generation dentist in Canton, MI who has completed hundreds of hours of continuing education courses in many areas of dentistry. In particular, he has extensive knowledge of diagnosing and treating disorders of the jaw joint, which can be negatively impacted by teeth grinding. To learn more about keeping your smile safe from chronic stress, contact Robison Dental Group at 734– 453–6320.