In simplest terms, stress is the body’s response to an event or situation that causes you to think or act in a challenging way. Acute stress is the short-lived kind that’s expected—for example, having to race to see your favorite band perform at their concert. Chronic stress occurs over longer periods of time and may be triggered by issues in life that you can’t control, such as dealing with a difficult boss at work. Both kinds can have negative side effects on your oral health.
When you’re experiencing acute stress, your body releases adrenaline to help you react quickly and effectively to your perceived threat. While this response is normal and even helpful in some situations, it stresses the body over time, which raises the risk of oral health problems such as tooth decay, gum disease, dry mouth, and increased sensitivity.
High levels of chronic stress can interfere with your immune system function, making you more susceptible to disease. It may also trigger other physical responses that impact your oral health, including increased blood pressure, inflammation of your gums, and an increased likelihood of grinding your teeth. All of these factors put you at risk for numerous oral conditions.
If you’re stressed, you may not even realize it. Many people experience chronic stress without even realizing it. The stressors of life can wear you down over time and directly affect your oral health.
If you lose sleep because you’re staying up late stressing over work, your body’s cortisol levels are elevated. High levels of cortisol can lead to gum disease and other oral health issues. In addition to being linked to heart attack risks, high cortisol levels have also been associated with bone loss and osteoporosis.
You may also suffer from dry mouth if you’re continually stressed. Saliva helps neutralize acid in the mouth and wash away bacteria that can cause cavities or gingivitis. If you don’t have enough saliva to help cleanse your mouth, you’re at risk of tooth decay.
In addition, the jaw may clench or tighten when you’re stressed, which can contribute to TMJ disorder. This can result in headaches, earaches, and more. Chewing gum can help relieve stress by stimulating the production of more saliva. Consider chewing sugarless gum after every meal or snack in order to combat the effects of stress on your oral health.
It’s important to practice healthy stress management techniques in order to maintain your health and prevent problems in the future. Talk to your dentist about your risk factors and how you can reduce your risk. Some patients may need additional help in the form of counseling or other mental health treatments.
Columbia View Dental is dedicated to providing you with safe, effective, and quality treatment. Contact our best dentist in The Dalles, OR, today at (541)296-5677 to learn more about our dental treatments. Get all your questions answered at Columbia View Dental, 1915 E 19th St, The Dalles, OR, 97058.