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Does stress affect the teeth?

With seemingly less time and fewer resources to accomplish our goals, it’s inevitable that more of us are increasingly stressed at home and at work, but why should it worry your dentist? You might be surprised to learn that your stress has a direct (and negative) impact on your teeth. Here are the top six ways stress can affect your oral health:

1) Grinding

Teeth grinding (bruxism) while you sleep is something you may not even be aware you’re doing, yet can have serious knock-on effects, such as jaw and neck pain, headaches, tooth wear and even cracked or broken teeth.

2) Clenching

Teeth clenching and grinding because of stress can lead to Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJD), which may require you to wear a mouth guard or even undergo further dental treatment.

3) Gum problems

Stress compromises your immune system, which means your body’s ability to fight bacteria is weakened. This could leave you more susceptible to developing gingivitis which could lead to periodontitis (gum disease).

4) Ulcers

There are several possible causes of mouth ulcers, but stress is one of the biggest causes. Ulcers are unpleasant and may cause soreness and make it difficult to eat and drink.

5) Neglect

Lack of sleep due to stress may cause us to neglect our regular oral health routine and increase the amount of sugary food we consume. This can lead to dental caries and tooth problems which can ultimately lead to tooth loss.

6) Cheek biting

Cheek biting is a repetitive action that is linked almost entirely to stress and anxiety.

Biting the inside of your cheeks is a definite sign of stress, or it is a habit people develop to cope with stress.

Stress busting tips

If you find yourself persistently injuring the inside of your mouth – whether that be through teeth grinding, cheek biting or otherwise, there are a few simple steps you can take to reduce stress and promote good oral health:

Identify your triggers

Once you know what sets you off and triggers your stress levels, you can then address these and put preventative measures in place to stop it from happening.

Exercise regularly

Something as simple as a short walk can provide immediate relief in stressful situations, so make the most of this useful tool to combat anxiety and tension and try to get outside for at least 30 minutes a day.

Give yourself time to relax before bed

Not only will a bedtime routine improve sleep quality, but getting enough sleep also means you're less likely to grind your teeth, so prioritise a good night's sleep by switching off gadgets and hour before bed.

Avoid unhealthy habits

Smoking, drinking and unhealthy eating are all proven to make stress worse and they can also cause various oral health issues such as tooth decay, halitosis and gum disease, so take care of your entire body to get the best from your oral health.

Be kind to yourself

Give yourself a break, accept the things you cannot change and try to be positive.

Visit us regularly

If you attend Hermitage Dental Practice at least once every 6 months, we will be able to monitor and discuss the effect that stress has had on your teeth, and help you to put a plan into place to help you to protect both your oral and general health.

Contact us on 01530 510533 to arrange an appointment today.

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