Pretty much everyone is aware of how chronic stress can affect your mental health. But did you know that it can also have adverse effects on your dental health? Recent research has shown a significant link between long-term stress and deteriorating health of your teeth and gums. If that wasn’t enough to convince you to see a mental health professional about your stress, a dentist near West Cobb is here to talk about four ways that chronic stress affects your teeth and gums.
1. Teeth Grinding
Many people grind their teeth, particularly while they sleep. This condition is known as bruxism. If you frequently wake up with a headache or a sore jaw or teeth, it may be the result of unconscious grinding. Untreated bruxism can also wear down the enamel on your teeth, even causing painful breakage. See your dentist in Marietta for a custom nightguard to prevent harmful contact between your teeth while you sleep.
2. TMJ Disorder
Chronic stress can also impact your temporomandibular joint, or TMJ. This is the joint just in front of and underneath your ear that allows your mouth to open and close and move side to side. Stress can result in swelling, stiffness, and pain in the area, as well as a popping sound when you open and close your jaw.
3. Gum Disease
Long-term stress and anxiety can weaken your immune system over time. This means that if you do get an infection in your mouth, like gum disease, your body isn’t as well-equipped to fight it off as it could be. Gum disease starts out with symptoms like bad breath and gums that bleed when you brush and floss. However, it can rapidly progress to the point that your teeth become loose and fall out, especially if you don’t get your stress dealt with.
4. Canker Sores
Extreme levels of stress, coupled with a weakened immune system, can cause painful mouth ulcers more commonly known as canker sores. Studies have shown that anxiety and even depression can lead to an increased risk of developing these uncomfortable ulcers.
As you can see, untreated stress takes a toll on much more than just your brain. Remember that there is nothing wrong with seeing your local primary care physician or mental health professional to help you manage your stress. In fact, your teeth and gums will thank you!