Stress can have a detrimental effect on your health, and this includes your oral health. Stress weakens the immune system, making it harder for your body to fight illness and infection. It can also aggravate symptoms of temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD). Taking measures to reduce your stress can help reduce these unwanted side effects.
The Effects of Stress on Your Oral Health
Stress can affect your oral health in a variety of ways. It can also adversely affect your overall health by suppressing your immune system. A weakened immune system can lead to problems with your teeth and gums, increasing your risk of gum disease and tooth decay. Some other issues stress can cause or exacerbate include:
- Teeth grinding, often a result of stress
- Increased risk of gum disease
- Dry mouth
In addition, if you respond to stress by eating an increased amount of sugary foods, you will be more likely to develop tooth decay because of the excess sugar in your mouth, which increases the population of bacteria. Poor eating habits due to anxiety can also contribute to a less effective immune system, since nutritious foods are necessary to provide vitamins and other nutrients that support immunity and overall health.
Reducing Stress to Protect Your Teeth
Reducing the stress in your life can help prevent long-term problems as well as keeping you healthier and happier. You can reduce stress by removing stressful elements from your life, or you can practice habits that mitigate the effects of stress so the effects are not as severe. For example, if your job is overly demanding, leaving you tense and unhappy, you could consider looking for a different job or addressing issues at work that cause the tension. Less drastic measures for stress reduction can include:
- Breathing exercises to ease tension
- Regular exercise
If you’re concerned that your stress levels might be affecting your oral health, visit our team for a full checkup.