20April

More Effects of Stress on Your Oral Health

In a previous post we covered the effects of stress on your oral health-- now we're back with part two!

stressed-manIt’s no secret that stress can take a toll on your health. With increased connectivity and economic challenges, people are finding no shortage of stress in their day to day activities. Stress has been linked to a number of health issues ranging from cardiovascular disease and gastrointestinal dysfunction to Alzheimer’s disease and premature aging. Professionals in dental medicine are also seeing the damaging effects of stress in their clients’ oral health. Here are a few ways in which stress can negatively affect your oral health.

Bruxism

Bruxism is the medical term used to describe teeth grinding and jaw tension. While bruxism can be caused by sleep disorders and misaligned or missing teeth, stress can often produce teeth grinding and jaw tension in individuals. People frequently are unaware of their bruxism because it happens unconsciously, or occurs in their sleep, and may not find out until they visit their dentist. Symptoms of bruxism may include:

  • Damaged teeth (flattened edges, chips, cracks, loosening)
  • Loss of tooth enamel
  • Heightened tooth sensitivity
  • Pain in the face, jaw, or the sensation of pain in the ear
  • Injuries to the inside of cheeks due to chewing
  • Tongue indentations
  • Headache
  • Dry Mouth.

Stress has also been shown to cause dry mouth, which is the insufficient production of saliva. While dry mouth is often a minor irritation for most individuals, it can cause serious problems since saliva helps to reduce bacterial growth which prevents tooth decay, and assists in the tasting, swallowing, and digestion of food.

Canker Sores

There is some evidence to support that stress contributes to the development of canker sores, or mouth ulcers. While these painful soars often result from trauma such as bites or abrasions from toothbrushes, researchers have seen links between reduction of canker sores and reduction of perceived stress in study participants. In a study from the peer-reviewed journal General Dentistry published by the Academy of General Dentistry, researchers noted that students saw a reduction in canker sores during school breaks and following graduation.

Temporomandibular Joint Disorders

Stress is thought to play a role in temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ/TMD) causing excessive activity of jaw and neck muscles resulting in clenched jaws and bruxism (teeth grinding). Sufferers may experience jaw pain, difficulty opening and closing their mouth, and clicking or popping of the jaw.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, contact our oral surgeons in Columbia, SC for treatment recommendations. Also consider options for reducing stress such as exercise (walking, cycling, yoga), meditation, massage therapy, or speaking with a trained counselor.

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