Stress can have many side effects on your health. It can weaken the body's immune system, increase blood pressure, and affect mental health. Stress can also cause you to grind your teeth, clench your jaw, and suffer from the temporomandibular joint disorder. Stress is also a known trigger for canker sores.
According to the American Dental Association, stress is the body's reaction to anything that disrupts our physical or mental equilibrium. The body reacts to stress by releasing hormones like cortisol and adrenaline that prepare us for survival mode by quickening heart rate and increasing blood flow to muscles. This response can cause a number of negative effects on the body, including oral health issues. While stress itself is not a direct cause of periodontal disease, it can exacerbate pre-existing oral conditions or bring about new problems.
Why exactly does stress affect your oral health? When the body is under a great deal of stress, it will automatically divert resources away from processes that aren't essential to survival. For example, your heart and lungs will work faster to provide your body with oxygenated blood, but your mouth will not require this extra boost in function at the moment. As a result, the mouth may not receive the necessary amount of saliva to keep the mouth hydrated and free of bacteria.
Not only does the absence of saliva increase the risk of gum disease, but it can also make existing gum inflammation and tooth decay much worse. Saliva acts as a natural defense system against bacteria and fungus in the mouth, but when there is not enough of it present, these germs can flourish unchecked and cause further damage to the teeth and gums. In addition, too much stress can actually trigger an inflammatory response in the body that causes gums to react and become inflamed. If left untreated, inflammation can lead to periodontitis.
In addition to causing more immediate dental issues like bleeding gums and dry mouth, chronic stress can also lead to long-term complications such as heart disease and stroke. The risk of these serious health conditions is increased when stress causes you to neglect your oral hygiene habits. If you aren't brushing and flossing your teeth as regularly as usual, you are at a higher risk of gingivitis, cavities, and more.
Having the right tools and proper information will also play a key role in helping you cope with dental stress. For example, bring a book with you to read while in the waiting room. Or ask your dentist ahead of time what techniques are available to help you relax during your appointment. Some dentists have televisions set up in the exam rooms to keep you distracted during treatment as well. Don't be afraid to ask if you have questions about what amenities are offered at your dentist's office. The more information you have, the more prepared you'll feel on your next visit.
Visit Picacho Dental, 3325 S Ave 8 E Suite 4, Yuma, AZ 85365, for a consultation to discuss the best dental treatment option for you. Make your appointment at (928) 344-3177 right away.