Everyone experiences acute stress from time to time. Generally speaking, this can result in temporary discomfort but poses no serious health risks. However, ongoing and long-term stress is different. Impacting the body systemically, sustained stress increases the chances of heart attack and stroke, contributes to hypertension, and is linked to type 2 diabetes. In addition, it can cause skin problems and acne, exacerbate asthma, and act as a catalyst for mood disorders, depression, and anxiety. It can also do incredible amounts of damage to the teeth.
Stress impacts the teeth in many ways – some direct, some behavioral – increasing risks for infection, decay, and tooth loss. Direct impacts of stress on oral health include:
- Increased acidity in the oral cavity
- Increased risks for tooth decay and infection
- Increased risks for gum disease
- Increased risk of bruxism
Indirectly, stress can harm the teeth through diminished diet, increased acid production in the stomach (GERD), and general disinterest in maintaining oral health.
Bruxism (tooth grinding) is a serious oral health issue. Unchecked, bruxism can lead to broken or chipped tooth enamel, uneven tooth wear, gum recession, and tooth loss. It is also a primary risk factor for TMJ.
Fortunately, if you are a tooth grinder, a simple orthotic device, known as an occlusal guard, may be all that’s necessary to prevent damage to the teeth. During your routine examinations, we carefully assess the teeth for signs of stress, such as bruxism. If an issue is detected, we will discuss this simple and effective treatment method in more detail. An occlusal guard may help to prevent the development of TMJ.
Dealing with Stress
We can treat the consequences of stress, but addressing its underlying cause will be necessary for long-term results. Try integrating Stress-reduction techniques, such as mindfulness practices, deep breathing, music and art therapy, yoga, and tai chi, into your daily schedule. Staying active, social, and engaged with your family, friends, and community are also helpful. And don’t forget to visit our office every six months for cleanings and examinations. While these visits won’t help with stress, they allow us to identify its signs and provide swift treatment for any issues it may be causing.
April is Stress Awareness Month and a great time to adopt new practices to help you stay focused and calm. If you are stressed, take some time to explore your options and take steps to begin protecting your oral and systemic health today.
To schedule your next appointment at The Smile Centre, please call 941-351-4468 today. Located in Sarasota, we welcome patients from all nearby areas of Florida.