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Stress Ruins Your Smile

February 8, 2017

Stress can cause indigestion, break your back, and give you a migraine, but did you know that it could also damage your smile? February is National Children’s Dental Health Month and it’s time that we take a closer look at how stress can impact the dental health of adults and children alike.

Listed below are just three ways in which stress can negatively impact your oral health.

  • Sleep bruxism. This condition is less of an oral health problem and more of a “sleep-related movement disorder.” People with sleep bruxism grind their teeth at night while they sleep. Severe forms of sleep bruxism lead to headaches, damaged teeth, and jaw disorder. Studies have found that social anxiety can contribute to sleep bruxism. Another study found that people with daily stress and problems at work who prefer negative coping strategies such as “escape” were more likely to grind their teeth.   
  • Gingivitis. This gum disease occurs when plague builds up on your teeth and gums. The gums can become irritated and inflamed, and they can even bleed. Gingivitis can be caused by smoking, using tobacco, poor nutrition, and stress. People who experience chronic stress often have poor oral hygiene and not brushing or flossing regularly can lead to gingivitis. Stress can also negatively affect your immune system and make it hard for your body to fight the infection once it starts. 
  • Periodontitis. This gum disease is a more severe form of gingivitis. With periodontitis the soft tissue and the bone that supports the teeth become damaged—this can lead to teeth loss. A past study found that stress and depression were associated with “periodontal destruction.” This was partially due to the neglect of proper oral care during periods of stress. Research also shows that chronic stress increases the amounts of cortisol in the bloodstream and lead further periodontal destruction.

In short, reducing stress is important for your teeth and gums. To promote better oral health and reduce your risk of bruxism, gingivitis, and periodontitis, try some of the stress reduction tips listed here. Also remember to brush and floss regularly, and make biannual dentist appointments. Your teeth will thank you!

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