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How Stress Affects Your Oral Health

patient during a procedure

Do you have a stressed out smile? If you find yourself battling stress on a daily or weekly basis, you are not alone. As our schedules get busier and our agenda gets larger, stress is often commonplace. However, if you do not find ways to reduce or manage your stress levels, your oral health can suffer. Stress is known for taking its toil on your energy, your digestive system, your sleep and other body functions. Stress can also profoundly impact your dental health. The following are ways your mouth may be telling you to slow down:

Mouth Sores
A mouth sore can be frustrating and even painful. You may assume it is a random occurrence, but canker sores commonly develop during times of stress or fatigue. This could be due to a lowered immune system that can’t fight off the virus or bacteria. A fever blister (cold sore) is another types of mouth sore. The herpes simplex virus primarily causes cold sores, but stressful and emotional upsets can trigger an outbreak.

Gum Disease and Tooth Decay
While your stress levels won’t directly cause you to have gum disease or cavities, it can cause you to slack on your oral hygiene efforts or eat a poor diet. Skipping your brushing sessions because you are too busy or tried, along with eating a lot of carbs and sugar during your stressed out moments, can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. These serious dental problems begin with plaque accumulation on your teeth and gums, so keep brushing and flossing even at the end of a very stressful day.

Bad Habits
Chewing on your pencil, biting your nails or even grinding your teeth are common responses to stress. These bad dental habits can wreak havoc on your smile by damaging tooth enamel and causing TMJ problems. Some people may grind or clench their teeth during the night and not even know it. If you can’t eliminate the stress that is causing your bad habit, ask your dentist about a custom mouthguard to prevent tooth damage from bruxism (teeth grinding).

If you notice these signs of stress in your mouth, don’t ignore them. The future health and aesthetics of your smile is at stake. Finding ways to cope with your stress is most important. However, if the damage has already been done, seeking proper dental care now can save you from more serious problems in the future. Salt Run Family Dentistry offers a full range of dental services, including those that treat canker sores, cavities, gum disease and teeth grinding. Our office just happens to be a relaxing place where you can leave your stress at the door!

Salt Run Family Dentistry
Salt Run Family Dentistry

700 Anastasia Blvd
St. Augustine, FL 32080
(904) 924-3540
Monday – Friday 7 AM – 5 PM