After the holidays, it is quite common if you feel like your stress level is coming down from an all time high. However, if you are stressed on a daily basis, your body will start to respond. Stress negatively affects all systems of the body including muscles, respiratory, cardiovascular, endocrine, gastrointestinal, nervous and reproductive systems. But did you know that stress could also compromise your oral health?
When you have high levels of stress in your body, your immune system is lowered. With a vulnerable immune system, it is hard to fight off infections, especially in your mouth. Therefore, stressing out makes you more likely to get gum disease, which is a chronic infection of the gums and supporting tissues. Left untreated, gum disease can lead to tooth failure and eventually tooth loss.
We all have nervous habits we engage in when we are stressed. Many people clench or grind their teeth when under pressure. This condition is called Bruxism and you may even be unaware of your habit if you do it at night. Clenching and grinding will wear down your teeth or cause Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorders. TMJ disorders can cause a myriad of symptoms including chronic headaches, ear pain, dizziness and more. Many dentists, such as Gilreath Family Dentistry, offer custom mouthguards for patients to wear at night to help protect your teeth and jaw from bruxism damage.
While a dentist can treat your gum disease or give you a mouth guard to prevent teeth grinding, it is most effective to treat these dental problems at its source. If stress is the cause of your unhealthy smile, find ways to deal with it in a healthy way. Physical exercise, breathing exercises, meditation, yoga and even laughter can help to combat stress in your life. It may also be beneficial to talk to a mental health professional. Eliminating unwanted stress from your life will do your entire body a favor, including your mouth!
Posted on behalf of Dr. Paul Gilreath IV,