Stress can have a tangible impact on every area of your life. One aspect that many people might not consider is the effect of stress on teeth. You could find yourself facing a variety of oral health issues caused by stress. Here are a few notable examples of those issues and what you can do to protect your smile.
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the hinge that lets your lower jaw move freely. It’s incredibly complex, with a network of muscles and nerves supporting its function. Its complexity makes it sensitive to many issues, with a variety of problems falling under the umbrella of TMJ disorders.
Stress can lead you to clench and grind your teeth, putting stress on the TMJ and surrounding muscles. You could find yourself with chronic or acute pain in the jaw, along with headaches and other symptoms. Popping and clicking are also signs of jaw issues. As many as 12% of adults suffer from TMJ,1 often due to stress in their lives.
The impact of stress on teeth can be severe, with grinding and clenching caused by stress leading to many issues. One of the most significant problems is worn enamel. As you grind and clench your teeth, you wear away the protective layer of enamel. Once gone, the enamel does not grow back.
A thinner protective layer makes your teeth more susceptible to tooth decay. Cavities can form and reach inner layers more easily. You could require a root canal treatment and dental crown to save the tooth if tooth decay takes hold.
Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease, identified mainly by bad breath or red and swollen gums. While it might not seem serious, it can progress to advanced gum disease that causes gum recession and even tooth loss.
Stress can reduce the effectiveness of your entire immune system, including in your mouth. This leaves your gums more susceptible to infection by bacteria. Stress can also lead to dry mouth, where you have reduced saliva production. Saliva plays a vital role in fighting bacteria, so in the case of dry mouth, the situation can become even worse.
Canker sores can be one of the most painful effects that stress has on your oral health. One or more canker sores can form, leaving highly sensitive spots inside the mouth, making eating and speaking difficult.
Many potential factors can contribute to canker sores. Various spicy and irritating foods are common triggers. However, stress can also increase your risk of developing canker sores. Most canker sores will heal on their own within two weeks, but long-lasting or multiple sores are reasons to see a dentist as soon as possible.
Of course, stress can also impact your oral health through your behavior. Sticking to a solid routine of brushing and flossing twice daily helps prevent tooth decay, gum disease, and other oral health problems. If you’re under a lot of stress, you could find yourself skipping your routine or rushing through it.
Dealing With the Impact of Stress on Teeth
These oral health issues are all serious concerns that could lead to more severe problems down the line. The best way to deal with them is to be proactive. You could benefit from finding ways to deal with stress or seeing a mental health professional. Getting the dental care you need to protect your smile is also essential.
The team at Albion Family Dental provides a comprehensive range of dental treatments to ensure lasting oral health. Preventative care, fillings, restorations, and more can help you and your family enjoy healthy and beautiful smiles. Book your next appointment today and call at (585) 589-9044.