Stress is an emotional or mental strain that can be caused by many different situations. When the body experiences stress, it releases hormones, including cortisol, into the bloodstream. Cortisol increases blood pressure, increases blood sugar levels, and suppresses the immune system. For some people, the body also releases epinephrine and norepinephrine, which can increase heart rate and breathing. Stress isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It can motivate us to work hard or meet a deadline. However, chronic stress can lead to physical and mental health issues.
A certain amount of stress is actually beneficial to your health. It motivates you to perform better at work and at home, it keeps you alert and aware, and it raises your adrenaline level, which can help you perform activities with ease and speed. However, too much stress is bad for your body and health in general, and stress can also take a toll on your oral health.
One of the main ways stress can harm your teeth is by causing bruxism - the clenching or grinding of your teeth. This is often done unconsciously during sleep, so you may be suffering from this without even realizing it. Bruxism can cause significant tooth damage and may also lead to jaw pain, headaches, and TMJ disorder. Try to find ways to relax during the day, such as taking a walk or meditating, and avoid chewing gum, as this can increase your stress levels. If you suspect that you might be suffering from bruxism, talk to your dentist about treatment options that can help to protect your teeth from this harmful habit.
Another way that stress can influence your oral health is through your diet. When you are stressed, you may find yourself reaching for foods that are high in sugar and fat. This can actually increase the occurrence of tooth decay and gum disease. Instead of turning to these unhealthy snacks for comfort, try chewing a piece of sugar-free gum, which has benefits for both your oral health and your overall wellness. Additionally, aim to maintain a well-balanced diet to get all the nutrients you need and reduce your risk of oral health problems.
Finally, stress can affect your immune system, which can make it harder for your body to fight off infections like gum disease. If you notice that you are often getting sick or if your gums are bleeding when you brush and floss, talk with your dentist about your stress levels. They can recommend some healthy ways to improve your mood and decrease your chance of infection.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to reduce the stress in your life and limit its impact on your overall well-being. Regular exercise and meditation can be a great way to clear your mind and release pent-up emotions.
If you want to learn more, call us at (630) 364-2554, and book your appointment with the dentist in our practice located in Naperville, IL. We will be happy to guide you further.