Thursday, January 23, 2014

Stress Bites: How Our Anxieties Can Be Linked to Oral Health

A healthy set of teeth and gums can give us plenty to smile about, but even proper oral care may not be enough to prevent some dental damage occurring if you suffer from emotional stress.

A build-up of anxieties and pressures during the day can manifest into bad habits at night, wreaking havoc on our teeth, experts warn. Worst of all, the damage to your teeth may be happening while you're not even conscious.

Here are some ways stress can take a toll on oral health:

Teeth Grinding

Amid the economic downturn in 2009, dentists reported a spike in the number of patients they were seeing with thinning enamel and chips in their teeth. The trend was attributed to people fretting about their jobs, finances or personal relationships who were grinding their teeth as they slept.

Left untreated, the condition known as bruxism - the gnashing of teeth and clenching of the jaw - can turn into dental fractures or even occlusal trauma, signified by teeth that are misaligned or soreness when clamped down. Continued grinding can also cause headaches.

It's not just painful; it can be costly. Getting veneers or crowns to repair teeth after they've been worn away from grinding can cost hundreds of dollars per tooth. While hard to cure, one solution to managing bruxism is to wear a tooth guard while sleeping. Some medications or cognitive therapy may also help.

Gum Diseases

Oral health is also about our gums, and the Academy of General Dentistry has also already linked emotional woes to our susceptibility to developing gum diseases. That's because stress weakens the immune system, which would normally ward off bacteria that leads to periodontal disease.
A 2007 study published in the Journal of Periodontology also found a strong correlation between gingivitis - the inflammation of gums - and emotional stress.

Mouth Ulcers

They're painful and common, and experts believe stress is a major cause of painful blisters like cold sores and canker sores. Repeated stress-induced habits such as biting lips or gums can cause abrasions leading to the sores.
For a home remedy, gargling with salt water can often help. Canker sores develop inside the mouth, whereas cold sores tend to develop outside the mouth on the lips.

Poor Diet and Neglectful Oral Hygiene

It's not uncommon for people faced with high-pressure situation to turn to junk foods and sticky, sugary snacks. But those products are more likely to lead to tooth decay and bacteria that cause cavities. Stay-alert beverages like sodas and caffeinated drinks can cause tooth decay and dehydration. Water is the best way to keep the mouth moist and gums soft, aiding with the production of saliva, a protective fluid.

Stress can also drain a person's energy, and they may neglect to brush or floss as regularly, according to a 2005 study of university students in the British Journal of Health Psychology. Significantly higher rates of plaque and gingivitis were found among students who had their teeth cleaned during a period when they were cramming for a major academic exam.

A healthy lifestyle enthusiast, F.R. writes about keeping our bodies and oral health in prime condition. Look for similar topics from a top Arlington (TX) dentist - team dentist for the Texas Rangers. His specialty is creating beautiful, healthy smiles using stress-free care in a comfortable environment, so consider visiting this dentist in Arlington, Texas.
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