How Is Stress and Oral Health Linked?
Posted by Dieterlen Dental Oct 17, 2023
Are you feeling stressed out lately? Well, you're not alone! Stress has become an all-too-familiar companion in our fast-paced modern lives. While we often talk about the impact of stress on our mental and physical wellbeing, we rarely consider its effects on something as seemingly unrelated as oral health. But believe it or not, there's a strong connection between the two!
How Stress Can Cause Dental Problems
Stress can wreak havoc on our bodies in many ways, and oral health is no exception. When we are stressed, our bodies release cortisol, a hormone that can lead to inflammation and weakened immune function. This can make us more susceptible to gum disease and other dental issues.
One way stress affects our oral health is by causing teeth grinding or clenching, known as bruxism. Many people may not even realize they are doing this until it starts causing pain or damage to their teeth. The constant pressure from grinding or clenching can wear down the enamel on our teeth and even result in fractures. In addition to physical symptoms like bruxism, stress also impacts our behaviors and habits that affect oral health. For example, when we are stressed, we may be more likely to neglect proper dental hygiene practices such as brushing and flossing regularly. We might also turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms like smoking or consuming sugary foods and drinks.
Furthermore, stress weakens the immune system's ability to fight off infections, including those in the mouth. Gum disease is an inflammatory condition caused by bacteria buildup around the gums, which leads not only to bleeding gums but tooth decay, too!
Tips for Managing Stress to Improve Oral Health
- Practice relaxation techniques: Engaging in activities such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga can help reduce stress levels and promote overall wellbeing. These practices can also have a positive impact on your oral health by reducing teeth grinding and jaw clenching, which are common manifestations of stress.
- Exercise regularly: Physical activity releases endorphins, the body's natural feel-good chemicals that can help improve mood and reduce stress levels. Incorporating regular exercise into your routine not only benefits your mental health but also contributes to better oral health.
- Get enough sleep: Adequate sleep is crucial for maintaining good overall health, including oral health. Lack of sleep can increase stress levels and weaken the immune system, making you more susceptible to gum disease and other oral infections.
- Maintain a healthy diet: A balanced diet plays a significant role in managing stress and promoting optimal oral health. Avoid excessive consumption of sugary snacks or drinks, as they can contribute to tooth decay and gum disease.
- Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of water throughout the day helps keep your mouth moist and prevents dry mouth caused by stress or certain medications. A dry mouth increases the risk of cavities due to reduced saliva production, so staying hydrated is essential for maintaining good oral health.
- Foster social connections: Building strong relationships with friends, family members, or participating in support groups helps combat feelings of isolation or loneliness that often accompany high-stress situations. Having a reliable support system can provide emotional relief while positively impacting both mental wellbeing and dental hygiene habits.
To learn more, visit Dieterlen Dental at 3015 E. 91st Street, Tulsa, OK 74137, or call (918) 299-2400.