Stress is powerful — it can interfere with many facets of your life, including your eating and sleeping habits. Perhaps one of the lesser-known negative effects of stress is what it can do to your dental health.
If you are under a considerable amount of stress and begin to notice issues with your teeth, gums and jaw, you may be experiencing one of these four symptoms of stress-related oral health problems.
Your Jaw Aches
Do you wake up in the morning with an aching jaw? Does your jaw click and pop when you move it, talk, chew or swallow? You could be suffering from temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ), and the symptoms of this condition can worsen with stress.
You may be clenching your jaw a lot during the day, which puts additional strain on the muscles. If TMJ is the cause, a dentist will be able to make a professional diagnosis and offer treatment solutions to relieve pain and reduce symptoms.
Your Tooth Enamel Is Worn or Flat on Top
You may not realize it, but stress can make you grind your teeth during the day and while you sleep. You could wake up with a headache, and the chewing surfaces of your teeth could begin to wear down, giving them a flat appearance.
Tooth grinding, also known as bruxism, is serious because it can cause lasting damage to the jaw and teeth. Your dentist can recommend the best way to curb tooth grinding, which might involve wearing a mouthguard at night.
You Have Repeated Bouts of Gum Disease
Stress is known to weaken the immune system, allowing bacteria to take a hold and giving diseases a chance to develop. Gum disease is characterized by red, inflamed gums that bleed easily and cause discomfort. It can lead to tooth problems and even tooth loss. If you find you have consistent bouts of periodontal disease, increased stress levels could be the cause.
Even if stress isn’t directly causing gum disease, stressful events in your life could distract you so you pay less attention to your normal oral care routine. Try to refocus on brushing and flossing and ask your dentist for helpful advice for keeping dental health a priority through the busiest times of your life.
You Have Constant Mouth Sores
When stress lowers your immune system, it also can allow mouth sores to develop. Canker sores can be caused by a virus or bacteria. Outbreaks of cold sores can be triggered by a stressful life event.
Ask your dentist how to treat mouth sores and relieve pain, and most of all how to prevent future occurrences.
Do you feel as if the stress in your life is contributing to your deteriorating oral health or dental pain? It’s time to talk to the team at Oak Hills Dentistry and find out how you can prevent stress from negatively affecting your teeth and jaw — make an appointment for a consultation today.