Stress is a common emotion most people experience at some point in their lives. Stress can affect our physical health as well as mental health. Stress can also be a contributing factor to oral health problems.
When you’re stressed, your body releases hormones that increase your blood pressure and heart rate. These stress hormones also cause inflammation in your body, which can lead to issues such as gum disease or cavities. This is because when you’re stressed out, you tend to neglect your oral hygiene routine. Instead of brushing twice a day for two minutes each time, you may skip a day here and there or brush your teeth less vigorously than you would under normal circumstances. This lack of oral health care allows bacteria and plaque to linger on your teeth, creating cavities. Additionally, stress can cause dry mouth. This means you don’t produce as many saliva molecules as you normally would, making you more prone to tooth decay and gum disease. Finally, eating unhealthy foods and neglecting exercise while you are under stress can also contribute to health issues such as diabetes or have a negative impact on your weight. Since poor dental health can impact other health factors, it is important to maintain good oral health even during times of high stress.
The body responds to stress by activating the “fight-or-flight” response, which prepares the body to face danger or run away as fast as possible. This response was useful when man was running from lions and other predators, but now it is activated in situations where there is no immediate danger. While it can be healthy in small doses, long-term exposure to stress can have serious health effects on the body, including affecting the mouth.
Stress affects the mouth in a few ways. It can generally disrupt the oral health routine because many people have trouble relaxing when they’re stressed out. This can cause people to neglect their oral hygiene routines and skip brushing, flossing, and regular checkups and cleanings. Missing out on these steps can greatly increase the risk of tooth decay and gum disease. There is also research suggesting a link between stress and the development of cavities. Finally, it’s been found that people under stress are more likely to be smokers than those who are not under stress, which can increase the risk of oral cancer due to tobacco usage.
Help avoid these issues by practicing stress relief techniques in addition to keeping up with good oral hygiene habits. Things like meditation, reading, exercise, journaling, taking a hot bath, listening to music, and being around friends and family can all help to reduce stress levels and provide positive health benefits. If needed, speak with your doctor about other ways to help you manage your stress levels.
Visit Rockville Dentistry Plus at 152 Rollins Ave #204 Rockville, MD, or call 240-669-8268 to learn more.