A woman sits with her knees to her chest and her arms on her knees surrounded by squiggly lines to represent stress and anxiety

How Stress Impacts Your Oral Health

July 8, 2023 12:51 pm

Understanding how stress impacts your oral health can help you mitigate these effects and maintain a healthy smile.

Unconscious Teeth Grinding

Stress can manifest itself during sleep and during waking hours as bruxism. Bruxism, or chronic teeth grinding and clenching, is a harmful habit that can wear down the enamel, leading to tooth sensitivity, jaw pain, headaches, and more.

Wearing a custom mouthguard and stress reduction techniques can help alleviate dental damage and pain from bruxism.

Gum Disease

Chronic stress can weaken the body’s immune system and make you more prone to inflammation. This makes the body more susceptible to infections, including gum disease. If bacteria in the mouth are allowed to flourish, you can experience inflamed gums, bleeding, and bad breath.

Consistent oral hygiene practices, stress management techniques, and regular dental checkups are essential for combating gum disease.

Salivary Dysfunction

Stress triggers the release of cortisol, a hormone that can interfere with salivary gland function. Reduced saliva production results in dry mouth, which increases your risk of tooth decay, gum disease, and oral infections.

Staying hydrated, avoiding caffeine and alcohol, using saliva substitutes, rinsing with specially-formulated mouthwash, and chewing sugar-free gum can help combat dry mouth.

Neglected Oral Care

You may be tempted to neglect your self-care, including your oral hygiene routine, and to eat poorly when you’re feeling stressed out. But you can experience many oral health issues if you skip brushing and flossing, do not attend regular dental visits, and fail to properly nourish your body.

Even when you’re stressed, don’t forget that good oral health habits and prioritizing self-care are vital to maintaining optimal oral health!

How to Improve Your Oral Health

If you cannot eliminate or alter the triggers of your stress, there are ways to minimize its negative impact on your oral health. For example, live proactively by brushing your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time, brushing your tongue, flossing every day, consuming a balanced diet, drinking plenty of water, and attending routine dental checkups and cleanings. We also recommend finding an enjoyable form of physical exercise, which can help you cope with stress.

At Alma Dental Care, we can help you take control of your dental health. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with our friendly dentist in Petaluma, CA!

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