Can Stress Have an Impact on Oral Health?

Can Stress Have an Impact on Oral Health?

Posted by Wayne H. Mori on May 11 2023, 11:02 PM

Stress is any mental or emotional tension that can affect you both mentally and physically. Stress can affect your oral health in more than one way. It can weaken the immune system, which compromises the immune system’s ability to fight diseases. It can also cause teeth grinding, clenching, and jaw clenching, which can lead to jaw disorders, headaches, and toothaches.

When people feel stressed, their bodies automatically respond by releasing hormones and chemicals into the bloodstream. These chemicals and hormones can negatively affect the immune system by decreasing the number of white blood cells the body produces. White blood cells help fight off infection in the body. If there are fewer white blood cells available to combat bacteria that enter the body through oral wounds or breathing in air particles that contain bacteria, the body is more susceptible to developing an infection such as gum disease.

In addition to causing problems with the immune system, stress can also lead to unhealthy eating habits that include increased consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and junk foods. Sugary drinks and processed foods can leave the mouth vulnerable to plaque buildup that leads to tooth decay and gum disease.

What Can Patients Do to Manage Stress?

In addition to treating underlying medical conditions and using strategies like meditation to cope with stressful situations, it’s important to maintain good oral hygiene habits. Dental checkups every six months can help to keep teeth looking and feeling their best. During an appointment, the dentist or hygienist will clean your teeth and address problems like cavities or gum disease. Maintaining a clean mouth can also boost confidence and contribute to overall well-being. Going to see a dentist for regular appointments can help prevent serious oral health issues from developing and can increase the chances of resolving them quickly if they do occur. These visits allow dentists to catch problems early when they’re easier to treat and easier to manage. Patients should remember that taking care of teeth and gums at home is equally important as going to the dentist regularly for cleanings and exams. Brushing twice a day for two minutes each time and flossing daily are all essential steps in maintaining healthy teeth and optimal oral health. Patients at risk for gum disease or other serious issues may need to see their dentist more often than usual to prevent the development of more serious oral conditions. For example, those who smoke or use tobacco products may need to get their teeth cleaned every three months to help avoid oral cancer, gum recession, and other problems. Those who have diabetes should also see their dentist at least once a year due to the link between diabetes and gum disease. Following the advice of their dental care provider is important for maintaining optimal oral health and preventing the need for more advanced dental treatments.

If you would like to learn more, contact our office. We look forward to seeing you! Contact us at (503) 230-8814 or visit our website to schedule an appointment.

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