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How Stress Can Damage Your Oral Health

How Stress Can Damage Your Oral Health

Stress is an issue we all deal with on a daily basis. Headaches, inability to sleep, higher blood pressure… all are side effects of too much stress. Failure to find ways to alleviate stress and keep yourself calm will cause you to age faster, and be less happy. Many times, people think they are sick with the latest bug, when in fact it is stress that is causing the physical pain and trouble they are experiencing. Often disregarded is the toll that stress can take on your oral health. Here are a few examples of what Dr. Michael G. Smith and his staff have seen throughout their years when it comes to stress-related impact on mouths:

Grinding Your Teeth

Bruxism is defined as “excessive teeth grinding or jaw clenching. It is an oral parafunctional activity; i.e., it is unrelated to normal function such as eating or talking.” Check out Wikipedia’s information here. Many of us know someone who grinds their teeth when stressed. Some people also tend to grind their teeth when sleeping, without even realizing it, only to wake up with jaw pain and headaches. Over time, without treatment such as a guard to be worn during sleep, teeth can become damaged.

Canker Sores
In recent years, numerous studies have shown stress to be harmful to your immune system, allowing easier passage for infections to develop, and last longer. When it comes to your mouth, canker sores, also known as aphthous ulcers, can arrive on your tongue, gums, or cheeks. They can usually stick around for about a week, but if your stress levels are high, that can be much longer. Gingivitis and other forms of oral infection can act to compound upon the problem. Clean gums and teeth will help drastically to reduce your risk for developing these uncomfortable sores. If canker sores are a frequent issue for you, give us a call to schedule an appointment today.

Unhealthy Habits

Ahhh… the ones we all know too well. When you get stressed, you tend to reach out for something to relieve that stress. For many, that is smoking, or drinking alcohol. Both of which can cause a decline in the function of your immune system, as well as damage to the tissues within your mouth. When those tissues become damaged, you run a greater risk for infection and bigger problems like tooth and gum decay. Another side effect of stress in that you may neglect your daily oral hygiene routine, such as brushing and flossing regularly. This can cause plaque to build, and create an environment where disease and infection can flourish.

Simple Ways to Relieve Stress
Meditation

• Try to take a few minutes each day to concentrate on the things you are thankful for in your life. This sort of positive outlook and targeted thinking can have a dramatic effect on the rest of your day.

Breathe Deeply
• If you do find yourself in a moment of stress, take a minute to calm down, breathe deeply in and out, and refocus your energy on positive thinking. This is a great way to relieve stress and get yourself back on track.

Laugh
• Ever heard the saying, “laughter is the best medicine”? Of course you have, because it’s true. Laughing makes everyone feel better, and it’s arguably the #1 way to relieve stress. Releasing happy hormones and pain relieving chemicals in your brain, there really isn’t anything better than having a good, genuine laugh.

Listen to Music
• Studies have shown that music has proven to lower blood pressure, as well as anxiety and heart rate. Listen to something you love when you are feeling down, so that you can get yourself back on track to having a good day.

Dr. Michael G. Smith prides himself on a comprehensive concern for your oral health. With an attention to detail and thorough understanding of your daily habits, he is better able to keep your mouth in top shape, and provide recommendations to keep it that way. If you are someone who has developed a habit of grinding your teeth, please don’t hesitate to contact us today.

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