It’s common knowledge that feeling stressed can influence various parts of the body. Many people suffer from digestive issues, headaches, chest pain, acne, and other maladies as a symptom of feeling anxious. However, did you know that stress can damage your teeth and gums as well? Read on as your Reno dentist reveals five surprising ways stress can impact your oral health.
Poor Oral Hygiene
When you’re feeling anxious about something, it can be difficult to think about anything else. As a result, a simple habit like your daily dental routine can be easily forgotten. However, routinely brushing and flossing your teeth plays a key role in preventing nearly every oral health issue. Slacking off on your oral hygiene puts you at a higher risk of damage, decay, and oral infections. Write yourself notes or set alerts on your phone to remind yourself about taking the time to clean your smile every day.
A familiar issue that comes with being tense is stress-eating. You may find yourself mindlessly snacking on sugary treats as an unconscious method of self-comfort. Not only are these unhealthy foods bad for your teeth and gums, but they can cause more damage when slowly consumed over time. The more often sugar is introduced into your mouth throughout the day, the more cavity-causing acid is produced. Instead of keeping your pantry stocked with sugary snacks, make sure you have plenty of fruits, veggies, low-fat dairy products, and other healthy alternatives.
Bad Chewing Habits
Do you have a nervous chewing habit? Some people don’t even realize that they chew on their fingernails, pen caps, or ice when they’re feeling stressed. These hard objects wear away at your enamel, which weakens your teeth and leaves them vulnerable to chipping or cracking. These items can also introduce new bacteria into your mouth, which can lead to infections. If you feel the need to chew on something, try eating a crunchy apple or stick of sugarless gum instead.
Teeth Grinding & TMJ Disorder
Researchers have discovered that stress can trigger a condition known as bruxism. This is when you unconsciously grind your teeth or clench your jaw, usually while you’re asleep. The nightly extra pressure on your teeth and jaw can lead to a host of small issues as well as larger problems. Bruxism slowly wears away your enamel, causing your teeth to become sensitive, weakened, and more vulnerable to chips, cracks, and cavities. It also wears on your jaw joints, which can lead to TMJ disorder and constant headaches. Talk to your dentist about getting a custom nightguard to protect your smile from the extra pressure.
Oral Infections & Gum Disease
Your immune system’s ability to fight off antigens is reduced when you’re feeling anxious, which puts you at a higher risk of mouth and gum infections. Several recent studies have found a link between emotional health and a severe bacterial infection known as gum disease. While this common oral health issue initially only causes inflamed, easily bleeding gums, it’s cited as the leading cause of tooth loss in the US. Remember to floss every day and practice great oral hygiene to keep your gums healthy, and talk to your dentist right away about any concerns you may have.
Identifying, accepting, and learning how to manage your stress can dramatically improve your quality of life. Your Reno dentist can carefully inspect your mouth to determine if feeling anxious is impacting your oral health and provide you with the tools you need to protect your happy, healthy smile.
About the Practice
At Summit Boulevard Dental, our talented dental team is dedicated to helping the smiles of Reno, NV stay healthy and intact for a lifetime. We do everything we can to prevent issues from developing and stop problems as early as possible. Our highly trained specialists can utilize the most advanced techniques and state-of-the-art technology to help you overcome whatever is standing between you and your ideal smile. If you’re concerned about how stress may be impacting your oral health, we encourage you to contact us via our website or at (775) 683-3008.