Not to stress you out, but stress has a significant affect on your oral health:
In 2022, Massachusetts was deemed the third most stressed state in the country, and although the pandemic is over, stress in 2023 and now in 2024 seems relentless. From the war in the Middle East, inflation, to traffic jams on Boston streets, it seems difficult to find relief. Such stress is a problem for our mental health, but what about our oral health?
Unlike other elements of our dental challenges that can be addressed with brushing, flossing, and rinsing, stress isn’t quite as easy to resolve. When stress takes over, even our sleep sometimes cannot take us away. And at night as we sleep, we often unconsciously take out our stress on our teeth through clinching and grinding. Herein lies our biggest challenge, because we unconsciously do damage to our dental work when we do not even realize we are doing it.
The result is often headaches and pain from your temporomandibular joints of your jaw (TMJ) and the loss of sleep associated with such discomfort. According to the American Dental Association, during the pandemic, “71% of dentists surveyed reported an increase in prevalence of teeth grinding and clenching; 63% for chipped teeth; 63% for cracked teeth; and 62% for temporomandibular joint disorder symptoms, which includes headaches and jaw pain.”
Attempting to understand how one can relieve their stress can be stressful!
According to the Mayo Clinic, being active not only relieves your physical stress, but your mental health as well. So, get active; walk, jog, go to the gym. You may very well be surprised how this not only makes you feel good about yourself, but you will sleep better and likely keep your teeth in top shape. Other considerations mentioned by the Mayo Clinic include healthy eating, meditation, and laughing more, which we could all use!
NYC Dental lists ways to mitigate the affect grinding your teeth will have as you work your way to a less stressful life. These include using a mouth guard at night to protect your teeth from each other, massaging your jaw muscles, as well as stop chewing non-food items and gum.
Other ways stress affects your oral health:
Aphthous ulcers, also known as canker sores, may be a result of stress as your body’s immune system gets weaker as our stress levels go up. Dry mouth, or xerostomia, comes about during stressful times and when we are feeling anxious. Saliva is essential to our oral health because it washes away much of the bacteria and other harmful elements that form in our mouth. Avoiding alcohol and drinking water will alleviate the effects of dry mouth and help to keep your teeth healthy.
At Riverwalk Dental we know life can and will be stressful. We hope your visits to our office help to alleviate some of that stress. Come visit with us soon!