Stress has a way of affecting our entire body in many different ways — our teeth and gums are no exception. Two of the most common impacts of stress on our oral heath are canker sores and teeth grinding or clenching.
Experts are not exactly certain what causes canker sores, though the general thought is that they are due to immune system problems, bacteria, or viruses. Too much stress in our life will increase our odds of getting them. The best way to deal with a canker sore is to minimize any irritation by avoiding foods that are spicy, hot, or that have a lot of acidity such as citrus fruits. Most sores will disappear after a week or so. Relief can also be had using over-the-counter topical anesthetics.
Teeth grinding (also known as bruxism) is often done unconsciously. Stress can cause us to grind or clench our teeth both at night and during the day. If you already clench or grind your teeth, stress can make the problem much worse. It’s important to address this issue because teeth grinding can lead to additional issues with your temporomandibular joint (TMJ). If you start to notice yourself grinding or clenching your teeth, talk to the dentist about the issue. It might be recommended that you use a night guard while you’re sleeping.
Stress can also cause us to neglect our regular oral health routine. We may find ourselves skipping out on brushing and flossing our teeth as often as we should and/or snacking more on unhealthy foods.
Learning how to handle stress is very important to your overall health. Be aware if you think stress is negatively impacting your life. Regular exercise can go a long way to relieve stress. If you feel like the amount of stress in your life is leading you to become depressed, talk to a health care or mental health care professional for the best way to manage the challenges you are facing.