Stress & Oral Health: How They’re Connected

Stress and oral health Ann Arbor MI dentists

Naturally, because life is life, stress happens. Sometimes it can help you get through an important project and other times, it can derail you by causing both mental and physical roadblocks. Our Ann Arbor, MI, dentists are here to help when stress is negatively affecting your jaw, teeth, and gums.

Here’s an overview of the toll stress can take on the body and more specifically, on your smile.

Side Effects of Stress

If you’ve ever been stressed over an upcoming deadline, family situation, or another thing entirely, you know the power it can have on your well-being. By this we’re referring to both the physical and emotional symptoms of stress such as:

  • Headaches
  • Stomachaches
  • Irritability or anger
  • Anxiety
  • Muscle tension or pain
  • Fatigue
  • Sleep disruption
  • Diet changes

Most people, however, do not consider the effects of stress when it comes to the jaws, teeth, and gums. Your oral health is just as important as your overall health so it’s key that you watch out for warning signs and aim to reduce your stress levels.

Depending on how exactly stress is impacting your oral health, our dentists can recommend helpful procedures, dental appliances, or at-home coping tips. Do not hesitate to contact our Ann Arbor, MI, dental office if you have jaw issues, mouth pain, or a tooth infection believed to be caused by stress.

Stress Often Affects the Mouth in the Form Of:

1. Intense Jaw Clenching

Whether you’re aware that you do it or it happens subconsciously, jaw clenching is a common oral condition brought on by stress. The jaw joint and chewing muscles can become sore and radiate pain as a result, often felt around the ear or face.

Though daytime clenching is annoying, you are conscious and thus have more control over curbing the habit. Clenching at night, on the other hand, is harder to stop unless you have a night guard in place. Our dentists can custom create a night guard for you to wear while sleeping so your upper and lower teeth do not meet.

2. Teeth Grinding During the Day or Night

Also treated with a night guard, excessive teeth grinding, or bruxism, can wreak havoc on your teeth if not stopped. If extreme enough, grinding can cause loose, broken, or cracked teeth. Wearing a custom-fitted night guard when you go to bed will help prevent tooth damage and cushion aching joint muscles.

For severely damaged or missing teeth, our dentists will recommend restorative treatment options. Those can include dental crowns, dental implants, TMJ treatment, or tooth extractions. We want your smile to be at its healthiest so we will work with you to get you the care you need most.

3. Uncomfortable Dryness

You might not think about the saliva in your mouth much, but it plays a key role in your oral health. Saliva helps to remove leftover food from teeth, keep teeth moist, remineralize enamel, and fight off harmful bacteria.

When you’re stressed, the amount of saliva in your mouth can decrease resulting in a condition known as dry mouth. This reduced saliva production puts you at risk for more plaque buildup and the development of oral issues like tooth decay and gum disease.

In addition to reducing your stress levels outside of the dental office, our dentists can recommend prescription or over-the-counter mouth rinses, artificial saliva or moisturizers, and fluoride trays.

4. Advanced Gum Disease or Infection

Because stress can influence the performance of your immune system, it can be hard for your body to properly fight off infections. Of course, neglecting your oral hygiene can exacerbate the problem and make an infection in the gums even more likely.

If our dentists find that you have gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease, it is reversible. A professional teeth cleaning and consistent oral care at home will improve your condition and return your gums back to normal. Unfortunately, once your infection progresses into later stage periodontitis, it can no longer be reversed and only managed.

Avoid this fate by practicing stress management at home and brushing your teeth at least twice a day. Remember to also floss in between teeth at least once daily to remove food particles left behind after meals.

Commit to Less Stress for Your Health

Our dentists in Ann Arbor, MI, get it. Sometimes stress is everywhere and hard to control even if you want to limit its presence. We can still help you (and your smile) stay protected as you work through the stressors in your life. Call Liberty Dental today at (734) 994-0909 to request an appointment.