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How Stress Affects Your Oral Health

Posted on January 11th, 2020

Many physical and emotional symptoms have been connected to stress. Headaches and stomachaches are among the most common symptoms related to stress, but did you know your oral health could also be negatively affected?

To maintain good oral health, as well as good health overall, it is important to properly manage stress. But before you can do that, you must first pinpoint the causes of your stress and recognize the symptoms.

At Atlanta West Dentistry in Marietta, GA, we can help treat the effects of stress on your oral health. Learn more about how stress can affect your teeth, gums, and mouth, then talk to us about ways to properly manage your stress to prevent these symptoms from reoccurring.

Oral Health-Related Conditions Connected to Stress

There are numerous ways stress can affect your oral health. Stress has been known to cause the following oral conditions:

  • Jaw problems – Disorders of the jaw joint or the muscles that aid in chewing. These can result in pain around the ear or face.
  • Teeth grinding – Also known as bruxism, stress can cause a person to grind their teeth while concentrating during the day or while sleeping at night.
  • Poor oral hygiene – Stress can cause a person to become forgetful or too busy to maintain proper dental hygiene, leading to a lack of good brushing and flossing. This can lead to tooth decay and gum disease.
  • Cold sores – Caused by the herpes simplex virus HSV-1, cold sores can be triggered by stress, as well as other factors like stress and sunlight
  • Oral infections or sores – Can also appear as ulcers, white or red spots, or white lines and are commonly triggered by stress
  • Decreased immune response – Stress can negatively affect the immune system, potentially leading to gum disease

Reduce Oral Symptoms Caused by Stress

When you visit our office in Marietta, GA, we will help determine what oral health problems need to be addressed. We will also discuss the stressors that could be triggering your symptoms, before coming up with a treatment plan that will work best for you.

In the meantime, consider taking the following steps to reduce the uncomfortable symptoms you are experiencing:

  • Address teeth grinding – Talk to us about how we can protect your teeth from the damage caused by teeth grinding. Many of our patients who grind their teeth at night benefit from a custom-fitted night guard. A night guard will prevent further damage and act as a cushion to relieve some of the stress put on the muscles and joint tissues of the jaw.
  • Avoid hard or crunchy foods that put too much pressure on your jaw and cause pain or discomfort.
  • Quit smoking or using tobacco. Tobacco products can make oral symptoms worse.
  • Use gentle massage, pain relief medications, or physical therapy to safely manage your pain.
  • Ask us about prescription medications like anti-inflammatory drugs that can help reduce inflammation of the jaw joint. If you are struggling with cold sores, antiviral drugs may help prevent them.
  • Avoiding the sun or using sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 can also help reduce the occurrence of cold sores.

Call Atlanta West Dentistry at (770) 635-5336 today or contact us online to learn more about the connection between stress and oral health, and what we can do to help keep you happy and healthy.