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How Stress Might Be Hurting Your Oral Health


Vernon Hills Dentist

Did you know that, according to the American Psychological Association, 80 percent of Americans have exhibited the physical and emotional symptoms of stress in the last year? Unfortunately, symptoms related to stress—including lack of sleep and poor nutrition—can be linked directly to a number of oral health problems. If you’re experiencing any of the following issues as a result of stress, be sure to contact your dentist at Metro Square Dental Associates straight away!

1. You may be at greater risk for gingivitis and gum disease.

You may have heard that stress weakens your immune system, and there’s a definitive reason for this! When you’re stressed, your body releases a hormone called cortisol, which directly impacts your immune system. So how does this affect your gums? Gingivitis—the earliest stage of gum disease—is caused by a buildup of bacteria along the gum line, and these bacteria thrive when your immune system is depleted. Therefore, when you’re stressed, bacteria flourish on the gums, leading them to become inflamed. Luckily, this can be treated easily in its earliest stages. However, if you don’t seek treatment right away, it could lead to much greater health problems down the line.

2. Stress could lead to TMJ disorders.

Do you often notice that you clench your jaw when your stressed? If done too often, this natural reaction to stress can actually cause damage to your jaw muscles and joints. Therefore, if you notice that your jaw creates popping or clicking sounds when you open and close your mouth, it is possible that you have a TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorder. This can become quite painful and must be remedied by a medical professional.

3. You may suffer from nighttime bruxism.

Nighttime bruxism, also known as grinding your teeth in your sleep, is a very common oral health condition that can be directly related to stress. Your body naturally clenches and grinds your teeth to relieve stress hormones while you sleep, just as you might shout to relieve stress in your waking hours. However, grinding your teeth can cause serious damage to your dental enamel. Not only can this wear away your enamel, but nighttime bruxism can lead to cracked teeth, facial pain, and headaches.

4. You might have painful canker sores.

Canker sores, or mouth ulcers, can be caused by trauma such as biting your cheek or overbrushing. However, mouth ulcers can also be caused entirely by stress. When your immune system is depleted due to stress, it makes you vulnerable to these ulcers. While they are not contagious, canker sores can be very painful and make eating difficult.

5. Dry mouth can be a side effect of certain medications for stress.

When your salivary glands don’t produce enough saliva to keep your mouth properly moistened—a condition known as dry mouth—it can lead to a number of oral health issues. Dry mouth is known to be directly related to tooth decay, as well as discomfort while chewing or swallowing and halitosis (bad breath). Unfortunately, certain medications for stress can lead to dry mouth, so it is important that you speak with your doctor if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms.

Has stress been impacting your oral health? Metro Square Dental Associates can help! Call our Vernon Hills office today to schedule your appointment.

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If you have a general question, comment, or need to schedule an appointment, feel free to send us a message! For emergencies, or to cancel or reschedule an appointment, please call our office at:
(847) 680-7171