Stress affects every aspect of your life, including your oral health. Stress can weaken your immune system, which makes you more susceptible to oral infections. Stress is also known to cause bruxism or teeth grinding. Teeth grinding can damage your dental enamel and lead to other oral health issues.
Stress is your body’s way of reacting to threats or pressure, and it’s a natural part of life. However, too much stress can lead to illness and disease, including oral health problems. This is because when you’re stressed, it triggers your “fight or flight” response. This triggers physical reactions to prepare the body for fighting a threat or going somewhere. It also helps you perform at a high level during sports or other physical activities when you need to be at your best. One of these responses is to flood the body with hormones like adrenaline and cortisol to rev up the nervous system and other parts of the body to act fast. And that can lead to a number of issues in the body, including the heart, gut, and brain. But it can also impact your oral health as well. Here’s what you need to know.
When the body is under stress, it can impact the digestive system because of the hormonal changes taking place in the body. Your mouth is also part of the digestive system, so it can lead to gastrointestinal symptoms like diarrhea, acid reflux, nausea, heartburn, and others. It’s also possible that food will get stuck in your teeth more easily because you’re not producing as much saliva as you normally would.
Unfortunately, most people use food to cope with stress, which can lead to poor oral hygiene habits like eating sugary foods or drinking coffee to stay awake. Poor nutrition can also impact your dental health. Instead of reaching for a candy bar when you start to feel anxious or overwhelmed, try some healthy alternatives, like taking a walk or listening to music. Both physical exercise and mental relaxation have been shown to reduce cortisol in the body and reduce stress levels. You may also want to speak to your doctor about other stress management techniques that may be right for you. While these treatments are highly effective on their own, many patients find that combining them produces the best results. Your dentist will be able to discuss which options are best for you.
If you’d like to learn more, then contact our dental office at (503) 581-2446 today. We’d be happy to help answer any questions that you may have.