How Stress Affects Your Oral Health

teeth grinding new york, ny dentistStress. We all have it and it can affect us in numerous ways.  Stress has been shown to impact the quality of your overall health, but did you know that it can also affect your oral health as well? Poor oral health, gum disease, TMJ disorders, and tooth loss can often be traced back to stress. Learn more about how to manage stress and your oral health with Dr. Brad Gorsky, a dentist in Manhattan, NY.

4 Ways Stress Affects Oral Health

Teeth Grinding

Teeth grinding is commonly associated with stress and can be caused by personal or environmental factors or sometimes by stress inside the mouth and jaw due to a dental problem. When teeth, jaw, and intricate system of muscles in the mouth and neck aren’t working properly, it creates tension. This tension can lead to headaches, facial pain, and teeth grinding. Dentists often prescribe mouthguards that are worn at night to protect the tooth enamel from damage from grinding.

Gum Disease

The main cause of periodontal or gum disease is bacteria in our mouths allowed to run rampant in our mouths.  This bacteria feeds on plaque, the clear sticky substance that forms on our teeth from saliva and leftover food particles.  The plaque that isn’t removed by brushing and flossing hardens and forms tartar.  To get rid of the bacteria, our immune systems release defense cells that cause areas of gum tissue around the teeth to become inflamed. As our gums swell, they pull away from the teeth creating little pockets that allow more bacteria to settle in. Eventually, the bacteria work their way through the plaque and start feasting on your tooth enamel and the bone tissue that support your teeth. Daily brushing and flossing and regular dental cleanings can help rid your mouth of plaque and tartar and prevent gum disease.

TMJ Disorders

Like teeth grinding, TMJ disorders are often linked to stress. Teeth grinding can lead to more serious problems within the jaw, causing pain when chewing, headaches, or even bite alignment problems. Stress reduction can help reduce TMJ disorder symptoms so your dentist may (973) 287-3153suggest relaxation techniques or medication but persistent pain may require advanced treatment from your dentist.

Dry Mouth

Stress releases hormones that can dry out your mouth. Keeping your mouth supplied with saliva is essential because a dry mouth is a fertile breeding ground for oral bacteria, which are the cause of gum disease. In addition, individuals in stressful environments are usually less likely to engage in healthy habits such as drinking enough water and eating a balanced, nutritious diet, which can also contribute to a dry mouth.

Managing Your Oral Health When You’re Stressed

Managing stress can be challenging, and it’s easy to dismiss concerns about your oral health when there are other things going on in your life. Be sure to maintain your at-home oral hygiene regimen of brushing twice daily and flossing to keep oral bacteria at bay, and incorporate stress-relieving techniques such as walks, exercise, and eating healthy foods into your life.

Your dentist is your ally when it comes to maintaining your oral health. Schedule an appointment with us online or call us at 212.235.1769 if you’re looking for help managing your oral health. Our office is conveniently located in midtown Manhattan New York, off the 4,5,6, E, M, N, Q and R subway lines.