When most people think of stress they think about the physical effects, such as headaches or upset stomach. Many do not realize stress can affect physical and mental health ranging from hair, teeth, skin, to memory and concentration skills, and even to how well we sleep. Stress relief, however, can lead to improvements in overall health and well being. It is important to contact a doctor if stress becomes intense. Some people even start to notice that stress starts to impact there oral health negatively.
Many people do not know that stress can have a negative effect on the health of their mouth. Stress can cause many problems in the mouth and even lead to tooth loss and painful TMJ syndrome. Fever blisters and canker sores are the most visible problems brought on by stress. Canker sores are grey or white ulcers that appear in the mouth. Little is known as to why these sores appear but it is proven that stress plays a big role. Fever blisters or cold sores are caused by a virus that lives in the body called Herpes Simplex and is contagious. They are clusters of water filled blisters and can appear inside or outside the mouth.
Bruxism is the name used to describe the act of clenching and grinding ones teeth together. This is often done unconsciously during sleep and trigged by higher stress levels. Some people even clench and grind when they are awake and can be unaware they are doing it. This clenching and grinding can lead to the wearing down of teeth causing them to become worn and thin and can even cause the teeth to crack or fracture. TMJ syndrome can also develop. TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint which is the jaw joint. The condition can be very painful and affect a person’s ears as well. Some people can find relief by wearing some type of mouth guard at night. This keeps the teeth apart and protects them and the jaw.
Stress also weakens a person immune system, which fight against the bacteria that cause periodontal disease, making a person more prone to gum infection. Chronic stress can lead to depression causing a person to be placed on anti-depressant medication. Many of these medications cause dry mouth. This becomes a problem because saliva helps to wash away food particles and harmful bacteria that contribute to plaque formation around the gum line. This can eventually lead to periodontal disease due to infection.
When under stress it is important to take time to focus on dental health. Being sure to see a dentist for regular cleanings and exams can catch problems early and the dentist can help take the steps needed to avoid further problems. Home care is equally as important and can help to fight against periodontal disease. Many doctors recommend counseling, exercise, meditation, and massage to help to reduce stress and improve overall health.
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