Stress can have a big impact on your dental health. When we're under stress, we have a physiological response that triggers the body's "flight or fight" mode. This response causes our heart rate to increase and our breathing to quicken, which results in increased blood flow throughout our bodies. Our bodies recognize this increase in blood flow as a stress response and respond by releasing hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones help prepare us for emergency action by triggering the release of glucose for energy and increasing blood pressure and heart rate. As a result, our oral hygiene routine can suffer. We may not brush as often or floss as well when we are feeling stressed, which may cause more plaque to build up on our teeth.
Additionally, we may find ourselves eating sugary foods to help us cope when under stress which places us at a greater risk of tooth decay since bacteria thrive on the sugar in our diets. Since some of us may grind our teeth and clench our jaws when we're stressed, we may also find ourselves with worn or damaged tooth enamel when experiencing higher levels of stress. Grinding our teeth puts unnecessary stress on them, too, which can wear down their structure and cause chips and cracks to form in them. Clenching also puts a large amount of pressure on our jaw joints and muscles, which can cause them to become inflamed and sore. This can lead to facial pain, headaches, and even TMJ disorder. Some people may even experience a popping or clicking in their jaw joint as a result of clenching, which can lead to further discomfort.
The good news is that it is possible to manage stress levels that lead to these detrimental long-term consequences. Relaxation techniques such as meditation, massage, and exercise are all great options that can help reduce stress and promote a healthy smile. If these techniques aren't enough, medication or therapy may be effective as well.
By taking steps to reduce stress and practice better oral hygiene, patients can reduce the risk of oral health issues associated with high-stress lifestyles.
Please reach out to our dental practice at 70 Pennington Dr, Ste 7, Bluffton, SC 29910, to have a consultation with our dentists. Call Dentist in Bluffton, SC, or schedule an online consultation, and we'll guide you further.