From juggling the elusive work-life balance to meeting project deadlines, stress is deeply ingrained in our everyday lives. Whether you’re a student, professional, stay-at-home-mom, or retiree, we all have to find ways to manage the stress we experience. You probably knew that stress can impact your health. Poor sleep, headaches, upset stomach, and high blood pressure are just a few of your body’s warning signs of high-stress. But did you know that stress can also affect your oral health, too?

When your stress is high, your mouth may let you know. Today we’ll explain how stress impacts your oral health, and what you can do to better manage stress in your life.

Dental Problems Caused or Worsened by Stress

You’ll start to notice the toll stress takes on your body when stress levels get out of control. While our bodies are created to withstand temporary bursts of minor stress, anxiety that is continuous and untreated will cause damage to emotional, physical, and even dental health. Read on to learn about the ways stress manifests itself in your mouth.

Cold Sores and Canker Sores

It’s not uncommon to occasionally get a cold sore or canker sore. But if you notice that you’re getting them more frequently than usual, stress may be the culprit. Your dentist or doctor can recommend medications or rinses to help you manage the symptoms of these sores, but they will go away on their own within a few days to a week.

Bruxism or Grinding Teeth

Experiencing mouth, jaw, or head pain upon waking up? You might be grinding your teeth at night. Bruxism is the term used for when you clench or grind your teeth in your sleep. This condition can cause damage to both the teeth and the jaws, even causing temporomandibular joint (TMJ) problems.

Gum Disease

When you’re stressed, your body’s ability to fight off harmful bacteria decreases. These bacteria include the plaque that builds up around the gum line, and once allowed to accumulate, you’ll become prone to gum disease and periodontitis. Gum disease can cause the loss of teeth, bleeding gums, and chronic bad breath, so it’s important to follow up with your dentist if you suspect it.

Neglect of Dental Hygiene

Stressful situations can sometimes cause us to become distracted from our usual routines. This means your dental hygiene habits may fall to the wayside, making you vulnerable to dental cavities and tooth decay.

It’s easy to neglect dental appointments when life gets busy, but keeping up with regular check-ups for cleanings and x-rays is the best way to make sure your oral health is in top shape.

Managing Stress

Learning how to better manage stress doesn’t come naturally for most people, but it’s the key to protecting your health and living a more fulfilling life. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to taming your stress –– that’s why it’s important to try out multiple coping techniques to figure out what works best for you.

When you’re under stress, prioritize getting plenty of rest. Aim for 7-8 hours of quality sleep each night. Having a hard time settling down for the night? Try out meditation or a warm bath before bed.

Instead of reaching for sugary or salty snacks, try eating a balanced diet and limit the amount of caffeine. It’s also helpful to sit down and write out the things adding stress or anxiety to your life. Seeing the list on paper can help bring your circumstances into perspective.

Don’t let stress have the final word when it comes to your oral health. Take the necessary steps to manage the tension in your life, and seek help from a professional therapist to find the right coping strategy for you.

Here at Endodontic Specialists of Colorado, we care about your overall health as much as your dental health. We love restoring our patients’ smiles and relieving their pain. Contact us today to learn how we can help you!