You probably know that stress is a contributing factor in many diseases, but did you know that it can also damage your oral health? Yes, feeling stressed puts your tongue, gums and teeth at risk of developing different kinds of health conditions. Here are some of the oral conditions that may be triggered or aggravated by stress:
Canker sores, which are also known as aphthous ulcers, are oral irritations that appear on the inside of the mouth. They are common in adolescents, young adults and women. The exact causes of canker sores are not known, but dentists know that they can be worsened or even triggered by stress (both physical and emotional). The good news is that they rarely result in any complications, but they can be very painful.
Did you know that even the dreaded periodontal (gum) disease can be aggravated by stress? For example, it is a well-known fact that stress weakens the immune system. With a weakened immune system, your body will not have the strength to fight off foreign attacks such as that caused by oral bacteria. Therefore, a stressed person is more likely to develop gum disease than a stress-free person.
This is a dental term that refers to continuous grinding of the teeth and clenching of the jaws. It has different causes including crooked teeth, sleep disorders and stress. Even if your bruxism isn't caused by stress, it will worsen if you are stressed.
To make matters worse, you may not always be aware that you are grinding your teeth or clenching your jaws. Bruxism can erode your teeth's enamel and make them hypertensive, and even cause indentations on your tongue.
Common causes of dry mouth include things like drugs, old age, and tobacco – but you should also add stress to this mix of causes. Having a dry mouth is detrimental to your oral health because you need the saliva to wash away bits of food and bacteria from your teeth. Saliva also has re-mineralization properties that help to protect your teeth. You will lose all these benefits of saliva if you develop dry mouth.
As you can see, stress has a very big effect on your oral health. Therefore, if you are stressed out and have other dental conditions, you need to treat both conditions. It is also good to tell your dentist about any stress you are going through, because he or she may have some tips on how to minimize its effect on your oral health.
For more information, contact a dentist like James J. Susack, DMD, PC.