Stress has been shown to be very harmful to our overall health. It can cause mental disorders like depression and anxiety, contribute to the risk of heart disease and stroke, and lead to a wide variety of other negative health conditions.
But did you know that stress can affect your teeth, too? There are a few different dental issues that are caused by stress, or that can be made worse by high levels of stress. In this blog from Skutak Dental, we’ll help you learn a bit more about these conditions.
Teeth grinding (bruxism) refers to the uncontrolled, unconscious grinding, and gnashing of the teeth. This can happen during the day, but it’s more common at night during sleep. This “parafunctional” activity can cause a variety of different oral health issues.
It can cause your teeth to feel sore and painful due to the pressure of grinding, and can lead to premature wear & tear from your teeth rubbing and clenching against each other. In addition, uncontrolled grinding can result in TMJ, which we’ll discuss in the next section of this blog.
Bruxism can be controlled with lifestyle changes, in some cases, but many people who grind their teeth choose to have a nightguard. A night guard is a custom-fitted plastic device that looks like a retainer, and is typically worn on the upper teeth. When worn during sleep, the night guard prevents direct tooth-to-tooth contact, which prevents wear & tear from grinding and can help prevent issues like TMJ.
TMJ is often the result of uncontrolled teeth grinding. This condition refers to a dysfunction of the temporomandibular joint, which is the delicate, small joint responsible for connecting the jaw to the skull.
Clenching and grinding puts a lot of unnatural stress on the jaw muscles and joints.. Over time, the temporomandibular joint can become damaged or inflamed due to uncontrolled clenching and grinding, which can result in TMJ.
TMJ can be treated with lifestyle changes and the use of an oral appliance that shifts the position of the jaw during sleep and encourages healing. Surgery and other such interventions are rarely needed, and are only necessary in extreme cases.
A prolonged, high level of stress is associated with an impaired immune system and reduced ability to fight back against infections. This includes periodontal disease, which is an infection of the gums, caused by improper oral care. Chronic stress can also make it harder to brush and floss properly, making the risk of developing gum disease even higher.
Canker sores (aphthous ulcers) typically form after the oral tissue is damaged, often by biting or chewing. Chewing of the lips and cheeks is a common coping mechanism for stress, so stress can result in a higher level of canker sores. Though these sores are not harmful or dangerous, they can be very painful and inconvenient when eating, speaking, and chewing.
Research on stress and health is ongoing, but the above oral health issues are all commonly associated with high levels of chronic stress. If you’re stressed, consider ways that you may be able to reduce your stress levels. And if you suffer from any of the above oral health issues, you can get help with treatment from Dr. Lisa Skutak at Skutak Dental.
As an experienced dentist in Rothschild, Dr. Skutak can help you find solutions to the above oral health issues, and make sure you get the care you need. So don’t wait. Contact us online or give us a call at (715) 355-4433 to get started.