Stress shows itself in many ways: pesky pounds around the middle, wrinkles, grey hair. While your appearance certainly suffers from stress, the reach of stress goes much further to impact your well-being – and compromise your oral health. Whether you like it or not, stress easily takes root in your mouth, and the state of your teeth and gums will respond, and they will not respond well.
Understanding How Stress Affects Oral Health
While some research links stress and gum disease, periodontal disease is a side effect of stress more than a direct result of it. When your mind and body are overcome with worry, grief, or despair, oral health often ends up at the bottom of the priority list. Here’s why:
- Neglecting oral hygiene: We pay less attention to our oral hygiene, skip a brushing here and there, neglect flossing entirely, and miss appointments for professional cleanings and dental exams. These may seem like miniscule issues in the grand scheme of things when you’re under serious stress but, over time, all of these factors can create complicated oral health problems like tooth loss.
- Altered saliva production: High levels of stress hormones can decrease or alter saliva production, and when your mouth is too dry it becomes a breeding ground for bacteria. A dry mouth, combined with poor oral hygiene, is a recipe for tooth decay as well as gingivitis or periodontitis.
- Depression caused by stress: Stress and depression are common bedfellows, and in this state of mind your teeth are also not always considered a priority. Without the energy or desire to maintain regular preventive care, your teeth and gums will suffer. Plus, if you’re taking medication to combat your anxiety or depression, this may cause you to suffer from dry mouth.
- Decreased immunity: Stress compromises your immune system. And lack of sleep, improper eating, and poorer health care all around means your oral health will also feel the results of these stress-related habits. Seeing a holistic dentist at times like this and undergoing biocompatibility testing can help solve health problems, identify the best restorative dentistry options, and even mitigate any stress you have about your well-being.
- Grinding your teeth: Teeth grinding is often done unconsciously, whether awake or asleep, and eventually this behavior will damage your jaw and wear down your enamel, causing painful soreness in your jaw. Teeth grinding can cause headaches, as well as fractured or loose teeth, while compromising the integrity of any bridges, crowns, dental implants, or cosmetic dentistry you have had completed.
Holistic dentistry is a practice that focuses on not just your teeth, but your overall well-being. When you have a problem with your teeth or gums, we don’t just fix the problem, we first identify its source. There are so many reasons for oral health problems beyond the obvious, and we make it a priority to treat you wholly.
Schedule your personal consultation with Dr. Yolanda Cintron at Fort Lauderdale’s International Center for Dental Excellence to learn more about managing your stress before it hurts your health, oral or otherwise.