Whether you’re a teenager or adult, it can be difficult to handle stress and keep calm. From financial worries to daily annoyances like traffic, stress is inevitable, but too much stress can wreck havoc on your oral health.
- Canker sores. Stress can increase your chances of getting these small sores. They are not contagious and usually disappear in seven to ten days. We recommend avoiding spicy foods and acidic foods like oranges, while you have canker sores.
- Poor dental hygiene habits. When you’re stressed out, you may start to skip your daily oral health routine. This can be due to genuine forgetfulness or a mood change. However, it’s important to keep up your brushing and flossing and maintain a healthy smile.
- Teeth grinding. You may clench or grind your teeth when you’re under stress. The technical term for this is bruxism. Bruxism can happen while you’re sleeping or awake. You may not even be aware you’re grinding your teeth. Some tell-tale signs of bruxism include flat tips of your teeth or sensitivity as your tooth enamel is worn down. Your TenderCare dentist can create a custom night guard to help stop you from grinding at night. They can also help you find out if there’s another medical condition that may be contributing to this habit.
- Dry mouth. When your mouth doesn’t produce enough saliva, you experience dry mouth. You may also have cracked lips or trouble swallowing. Stress or anxiety can cause dry mouth, but it can also be caused by dehydration or certain medications. Drinking water and chewing sugar-free gum can help your mouth produce the right amount of saliva. Using a humidifier in your home or office can help as well.
- Unhealthy eating habits. You may start to eat less healthy when anxious or tense. Indulging in sugary junk foods and beverages may seem to make you feel better. But this type of diet is bad for your oral health and bad for your overall health too. Healthier foods are better for your teeth. For example, strawberries are a natural teeth-whitener and apples help to clean plaque off your teeth. Eating a healthier diet and getting regular exercise will actually relieve stress naturally!
- Gum disease. Stress has been linked to a higher risk for gum disease. Smoking and poor dental hygiene habits can increase the risk for gum disease too. Gum disease destroys the tissue surrounding your teeth and can lead to tooth loss. Symptoms of gum disease include bleeding gums when brushing teeth, swelling or redness in the gums, bad breath, or loose teeth. This disease can be prevented by controlling and reducing plaque in the mouth. Regular dental cleanings and daily brushing and flossing are important too. Your TenderCare dentist can diagnose gum disease and help you get back to healthy gums.
- Temporomandibular joint disorders aka TMD. TMD is sometimes wrongly referred to as TMJ. The temporomandibular joint attaches your jaw to your skull. It is responsible for letting your jaw move and letting you talk and chew food. Grinding your teeth can cause TMD. Stress can make you tighten your jaw muscles causing TMD too. How do you know if you’re suffering from this condition? Often, people experience pain or discomfort in the face, jaw, or around the ears. Other symptoms include trouble chewing, headaches, dizziness, trouble opening your mouth wide, or unusual sounds from the jaw joint when opening your mouth. If you think you may have TMD, your TenderCare dentist can assess your condition and provide treatment. Using heat or cold can help relieve pain in the meantime.
Keeping good oral health is important when you’re stressed out, but sometimes this is easier said than done. Here are some tips:
- If your oral hygiene habits are suffering, set alarms on your cell phone for the morning and evening. Use these to remind yourself to brush and floss. Don’t let yourself make excuses and stick to your routine.
- Try to relieve your stress naturally. Exercising regularly, meditation, deep breathing, or massage therapy can help you handle stress. Be sure to get enough sleep too.
- Make time for the activities you love and spend time with friends and family.
- Avoid caffeine or sugary food to cope with your stress. Cook and eat healthy instead.
- See your TenderCare dentist every six months! They can help you with any dental problems and offer treatment and advice. If you’re experiencing a problem listed above, such as teeth grinding or gum disease, it’s important to see your dentist soon.