Stress is obviously detrimental to your mental health, but it can wreak havoc on your physical health as well, including the health of your teeth and gums. Stress can manifest itself in a variety of physical symptoms, disorders, and harmful habits. Read on to learn more about the connection between stress and your dental health.
Harmful Habits Caused By Stress
There are several stress-induced habits that can negatively impact your dental health, including nail biting, teeth grinding, and smoking. Nail biting introduces bacteria into your mouth that can cause infections, tooth decay, and gum disease. Teeth grinding or bruxism, whether you do it during the day or while you sleep without even knowing it, can wear down your teeth and lead to jaw pain, TMJ disorder, and tension headaches. Bruxism is often caused by stress and can be remedied through the use of a mouthguard.
Stress might cause some people to take up smoking, which can stain teeth and lead to oral cancer. Smokers are also three to six times more likely to develop harmful gum disease, which can eventually cause tooth loss. While less serious than smoking, other stress-induced habits, such as neglecting your oral hygiene or eating more sugary foods, are also detrimental to your dental health.
Oral Conditions Linked To Stress
Stress can also lead to certain health conditions, like burning mouth syndrome, canker sores, and gum disease. Burning mouth syndrome is a painful condition affecting the gums, cheeks, tongue, and other areas of the mouth. It causes a sudden burning sensation that can also be accompanied by dry mouth or a change in the taste of your mouth. The exact cause of burning mouth syndrome has not been determined, but it is believed to be linked to stress. Canker sores are also linked to stress and hormonal changes. These are small ulcers that form on your gums or other parts of the inside of your mouth. Canker sores can be painful, especially during eating and drinking.
Ultimately, stress wears down your immune system and diminishes your body’s ability to fight infection and disease. As a result, stress can make you more vulnerable to oral infections that can lead to tooth decay, gum disease, and other dental problems. Call our office if you are experiencing any of the above issues or want to learn more about the connection between stress and your dental health.