Among those impacts are the ways that oral health can be affected by stress, and we want to make sure our patients are aware of the connection so they have more tools to fight back.
The technical term for habitual teeth-grinding and jaw-clenching is bruxism, and clenching and grinding are natural responses to stress and frustration for some people. Common signs of bruxism include flattened chewing surfaces of the teeth and a sore jaw, and the risks to oral health from this habit are significant. People with bruxism may not even realize they’re doing it, especially if they do it in their sleep rather than during the day.
Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) is a disorder of the jaw joint, muscles, and nerves associated with chronic facial pain. Like with bruxism, stress is believed to be a contributing factor, resulting in soreness and pain in the temporomandibular joint, frequent headaches, and popping and clicking in the jaw.
When stress goes on for lengthy periods of time, it can put a lot of strain on the immune system, making it harder to fight back as effectively against things like oral infections, canker sores, cavities, dry mouth, and gum disease.
The many negative effects of stress only make it more important to keep up with good oral hygiene habits like daily flossing and brushing for two minutes twice a day. Spending just a few minutes looking after our teeth each day can make a huge difference in our oral health. Having healthy teeth and gums might not address whatever’s stressing you out, but it can definitely help you feel a little better and more in control.
Check out this video for a few quick ideas on de-stressing:
As dental health experts, we want to make sure that oral health is one thing our patients don’t have to stress about. We realize that the idea of going to the dentist can be stressful on its own for many people, but we’re here to help. We encourage everyone to keep up with their regular dental appointments, and especially to schedule one if you experience symptoms of oral health problems like TMD or bruxism.