Stressed Out? So are your teeth!

Work, family, friends, health, school, errands. Everyone has a lot going on these days. It’s no wonder we are more stressed out than ever. We all hear about what stress can do to our minds and bodies, but what about our teeth? Stressful lives can impact our dental hygiene, too.

Stress can cause a lot of problems, including canker sores, fever blisters (cold sores), and tooth loss. Canker sores tend to appear in periods of high stress. Fever blisters are caused by a virus called herpes simplex. They’re triggered by lack of sleep and stress, and they appear around your mouth as small blisters filled with water. There are over-the-counter medicines to treat these things, but your doctor can prescribe something stronger if it becomes a persistent problem.

One of the most common side effects of stress in the mouth is grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw (bruxism). A lot of people do this in their sleep, and don’t even realize that they are doing it. Sometimes, people clench their jaws during the waking hours without even noticing. If you notice indentations in your teeth or extreme sensitivity, make an appointment as soon as you can to see your dentist. This bad habit can wear down your molars or even crack your teeth, so be careful! There are night guards and other dental appliances you can wear at night to help minimize the effects of this problem.

Clenching and grinding can also lead to TMJ, temporomandibular joint syndrome. The overuse of the jaw muscles can cause pain in the jaw, ear and face. Emotional stress also leads to increased risk for gum disease in adults. Definitely see your dentist as soon as possible if you are exhibiting these symptoms.

Stress also lends itself to bad habits, including a poor diet or vices like chewing on your fingernails or ice cubes. This can wear down your enamel and sealants, causing bigger problems in your mouth down the road. A healthy lifestyle is crucial to maintaining your dental, mental and physical health.

Despite stressful lifestyles, be sure to make time to take care of yourself. Don’t let your oral hygiene go by the wayside in light of stressful events. Brush, floss and schedule your regular check-ups no matter what. It’ll save you a lot more stress in the long run!

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