How Stress Impacts Your Teeth

b2ap3 thumbnail Stress Teeth

It’s no big secret that stress can cause all kinds of nasty things to happen to our bodies. The longer a person is under stress, and the amount of stress involved, can cause everything from headache and stomach troubles, to hallucinations and sleep problems. A little known fact, however, is that stress can also affect your teeth, gums and general oral health.

Canker Sores and Fever Blisters

Not many people are aware that canker sores and fever blisters can be brought on by stress. Canker sores appear as small, shallow, white or greyish ulcers inside the mouth. Talking, yawning, eating, and anything else you do with your mouth can be very painful when they are present. Cold sores or fever blisters are also brought about by stress. They appear as blisters on the outside of the mouth filled with a clear fluid. While fever blisters are extremely contagious, canker sores are not.

Bruxism

Another way stress affects the teeth is when bruxism develops, which is the grinding and clenching of the jaws. It can be caused by a variety of things, but it's usually stress or anxiety related. Many people will show these symptoms without even knowing. Bruxism also occurs during sleeping hours when the person is unaware. Signs that bruxism is present can be the flattening of the tips of the teeth, loss of enamel, and indentations in the tongue.

Temporomandibular Disorders

The group of conditions that affect the temporomandibular joint, or the jaw, are called Temporomandibular Disorders or TMD, and are thought to be caused by stress and anxiety. It not only affects the teeth and jaw but also the neck. It can eventually cause pain and a popping in the jaw. TMD wears down the enamel of the teeth as well.

Gum Disease

Many prestigious universities across the country have done studies showing a connection between gum disease and stress factors. An interesting fact garnered from such studies is that the degree of gum disease, or periodontal disease, is directly related to the degree of stress experienced in the last 12 months. This can include many factors; for example, financial problems. Studies show people who stress about their money issues in highly emotional ways develop gum disease at a higher rate than those who do not.

Drugs and Alcohol

Certain drugs used to treat anxiety and stress can lead to dry mouth, which causes bad breath, gum disease and often, tooth loss. Saliva plays an important role in the prevention of tooth decay and good oral health. Alcohol can also give you dry mouth. It may be strange to think that drinking something can give you dry mouth, but in the case of alcohol, it's true.

One of the main reasons stress affects the teeth so badly is because when people stress out, they are less likely to be in the mood to take care of themselves. Brushing and flossing fall to the wayside when you can’t find the motivation to get out of bed. Make sure you see a professional about what's causing the stress – or the problem will continue.

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