Is your mouth stressed out?
You may think that you know all of the physical ways that stress may affect your body—heart problems, weight gain, difficulty breathing and the like, but stress can also impact your dental health as well.
Many people who are not good at managing their stress find that they work it out subconsciously by grinding their teeth, which is not a healthy habit. Your dentist may notice signs of bruxism (tooth grinding), such as unusual wear and tear on the teeth, or a sleeping partner may alert you to the problem.
You may even recognize some signs of bruxism yourself, especially if you find that you often wake with a headache for no apparent reason.
Because bruxism is so often stress-related, some patients may respond to relaxation therapies, such as meditation. However, for those who can’t seem to put mind over matter, the dentist can prescribe a custom-crafted nightguard to prevent the teeth from coming together and exerting excessive forces on each other.
Nightguards are most effective when they are designed based on impressions provided by your dentist. Having a custom-made nightguard improves its fit and makes it more comfortable as well.
When you wear a nightguard, you are likely to notice fewer and fewer of those pesky headaches, and your partner will get more sleep. Of course, your teeth will benefit from the deal, too, as they won’t suffer from the structural damage that bruxism can cause.
Bruxism isn’t necessarily the only way that stress can influence your oral health, either. Stress is associated with inflammation thanks to a hormone called cortisol, which our bodies release when we’re stressed out. That inflammation can lead to gum disease. Additionally, you may accumulate more plaque during periods of high stress, further adding to your risk of periodontal problems. Canker sores can also be linked to your emotional health.
Stress can affect your mouth in myriad ways, so if you’ve been under pressure lately, be sure to explain that at your next dental appointment so that the dentist can provide appropriate treatment for any stress-related oral health issues that you’ve developed.
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