MENTAL WELL-BEING or lack thereof can often have an impact on physical health. Among those impacts are the ways that oral health can be affected by stress. In the times we are living now, with all the uncertainties and changes in our routines, stress has increased in all ages. We want to make sure our patients are aware of the connection so they have more tools to fight back.
Grinding Your Teeth? Stress May Be Behind It.
The technical term for habitual teeth-grinding and jaw-clenching is bruxism, and clenching and grinding are natural responses to stress and frustration for some people. Common signs of bruxism include flattened chewing surfaces of the teeth and a sore jaw, and the risks to oral health from this habit are significant. People with bruxism may not even realize they’re doing it, especially if they do it in their sleep rather than during the day.
Stress Can Compound TMD Symptoms
Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) is a disorder of the jaw joint, muscles, and nerves associated with chronic facial pain. Like with bruxism, stress is believed to be a contributing factor, resulting in soreness and pain in the temporomandibular joint, frequent headaches, and popping and clicking in the jaw.
Our Immune Systems Are Weakened by Stress
When stress goes on for lengthy periods of time, it can put a lot of strain on the immune system, making it harder to fight back as effectively against things like oral infections, canker sores, cavities, dry mouth, and gum disease.
Always Prioritize Oral Health and Hygiene
The many negative effects of stress only make it more important to keep up with good oral hygiene habits like daily flossing and brushing for two minutes twice a day. Spending just a few minutes looking after our teeth each day can make a huge difference in our oral health. Having healthy teeth and gums might not address whatever’s stressing you out, but it can definitely help you feel a little better and more in control.
Here are a few quick ideas to de-stress:
1. Get Moving
Activity of all kinds can release natural brain chemicals that boost your mood.
2. Try Guided Meditation
Meditation is healthy for your mind and body. An app or video makes it easy to get started.
3. Cue Up Something Funny
Laughing triggers physical changes that affect stress response, even if you have to fake it.
4. Phone A Friend
You may feel like hunkering down, but social contact can be a healthy outlet for stress.
5. Just Say ‘No’
Taking on too much can lead to stress, anger and resentment.
6. Write It Down
A journal can be a surprisingly helpful therapist.
Hint: Don’t think, just write,
7. Busy Your Hands
Get out of your own head by working at a hobby you enjoy, like gardening, sewing or sketching.
You Have Allies in This Fight
As dental health experts, we want to make sure that oral health is one thing our patients don’t have to stress about. We realize that the idea of going to the dentist can be stressful on its own for many people, but we’re here to help. We encourage everyone to keep up with their regular dental appointments, and especially to schedule one if you experience symptoms of oral health problems like TMD or bruxism.
We’re here to help our patients smile easier, not just healthier!
- The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.