It’s no secret that high stress can negatively affect our health. Prolonged periods of too much stress has been linked to heart disease, gastrointestinal problems, obesity, and difficulty in managing diabetes. But at our dental office in Hagerstown, we know that increased stress can also harm your oral health.
Since increased stress levels can actually make our immune systems less effective, it can greatly affect our health, including our mouths. An ineffective immune system means more bacteria is left behind, which can find its way deep under the gums. When this happens, the chance for developing gum disease increases. If not treated by a dentist in Hagerstown, gum disease can lead to tooth loss, bad breath, and a whole host of other health problems such as heart disease.
Everyone reacts to stress in different ways. Some people bite their nails, others sweat a lot, and many people clench their jaws. Oftentimes these responses to stress are done automatically and without thought or awareness. But when someone habitually clenches their jaw over and over it can lead to some serious problems. Not only can repeated clenching damage teeth, but it can also cause severe jaw pain. Occasionally the pain is temporary, but other times it gets worse and is partnered with clicking, popping, or a locked jaw. If this occurs, it could be a sign of TMJ (or TMD) and treatment will be recommended.
Canker sores are a potential oral health side effect of too much stress. While they aren’t necessarily dangerous, they can certainly be annoying and often painful. Even though there is no official known cause of canker sores, studies show that increased stress can play a role. Treatment isn’t usually needed as canker sores should go away on their own and aren’t contagious.
To protect your overall health and oral health from the dangers of too much stress, practice lowering stress and anxiety by following a few key tips such as:
- Eating Well. Following a well-balanced diet fuels our bodies to function properly, and when our bodies are working as they should, it may be easier to keep stress levels low.
- Working Out. Being active releases “feel good” chemicals in our bodies that make us feel happier and less stressed. Find an exercise program that you enjoy and stick with it!
- Sleeping Enough. Getting the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep every night can help your body relax and replenish, thus decreasing stress and preparing you to tackle another day.
If you feel that stress may be affecting your oral health, we welcome you to call our Hagerstown dental office to schedule an appointment with us today. We promise that a visit with us will be anything but stressful.