How Stress Affects Your Oral Health
Medical researches discover more and more harmful effects of stress each year. Stress does more than make you anxious; it also affects your physical wellbeing, including your oral health. Researchers have discovered a strong link between depression and anxiety and dental problems.
Stress often leads to tooth grinding. Most patients who grind their teeth do not even realize it, because they grind them at night while they are sleeping. The dentist usually diagnoses bruxism, or tooth grinding, during a dental appointment. If left untreated, tooth grinding can lead to temporomandibular joint disorders, or problems with the joints of the jaw. Wearing a special mouth guard at night can prevent the damage to the dental enamel and the sore jaw muscles that often accompany tooth grinding.
Chronic stress as well as some medications used to treat depression can cause dry mouth. Aside from being uncomfortable, dry mouth is a problem because saliva helps to wash away food particles, white blood cells, and harmful bacteria that contribute to the formation of plaque.
Stress and canker sores are also linked. Currently, researchers are not sure what exactly causes these painful sores, but stress seems to contribute to an outbreak of sores. Similarly, stress has been linked to a condition called lichen planus, which causes sores, ulcers, and white striations in the mouth.
The most insidious way in which stress affects oral health is by causing the immune system to function less efficiently. When the immune system is not working well, patients are more vulnerable to gum disease and infections.
If you are experiencing a high amount of stress, or if you struggle with depression or anxiety, Dr. Frame, Santa Clara dentist, can help. Whether you need to be fitted with a night guard to stop bruxism or simply need help with mouth sores, there are solutions that can ease your discomfort and restore your oral health.
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