Everyone experiences some sort of stress, but different people handle stress in different ways. Some people respond to stress with aggressive responses, such as yelling or arguing. Others become withdrawn and quiet in the face of stress. Still, others find themselves struggling with upset stomachs, headaches, and muscle tension. Stress can even affect the way you chew your food. A stressed person may chew their food more than usual, or they may swallow their bites without chewing them enough. In either scenario, this can lead to serious dental problems.
When your body is stressed, it produces a cocktail of hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones are designed to help you deal with stressful events and to escape danger quickly by triggering your fight-or-flight response. Unfortunately, these stress hormones may also trigger a reaction in your oral tissue. If you are constantly under severe stress, you may see changes in your oral health. You may notice that you are more prone to cavities or gum disease. You may also notice increased sensitivity to hot and cold foods and drinks. Chronic stress can also contribute to TMJ disorders like bruxism. All of these changes can be painful and may significantly impact your quality of life.
Tooth pain, gum tenderness, inflamed gums, and even bad breath can all make you feel self-conscious about your smile as well as just how you feel in general. Tooth pain can feel overwhelming, while bad breath and/or unpleasant taste can put a real damper on your appetite and your ability to enjoy your favorite foods. This can lead to more stress about how your body isn't working properly, which will likely only exacerbate the issue at hand – most notably, tooth and gum health – even more.
Because the mouth is a gateway to the rest of the body, when it gets sick it can also make it difficult for other parts of the body to function at their best. For example, gum disease has been linked to serious health problems like heart disease and diabetes – not to mention how it can interfere with issues like immune function, digestion, and more. By taking care of your mouth and keeping it healthy, you can ensure your entire body stays in good working order, and you don't experience as much stress as a result.
And the same goes the other way: when people suffer from physical ailments, it often manifests in the mouth as well. Dentists are often the first to spot signs of chronic illnesses like diabetes, oral cancers, HIV, and more.
The good news is that there are many ways to reduce stress and protect your health at the same time. Regular exercise can release tension and help you sleep better at night. Meditation and relaxation techniques can help you manage anxiety. Healthy eating can also help you feel better from the inside out. Talking to a loved one about your troubles can also be beneficial, even if that person can't solve all of your problems. Finding healthy ways to deal with stress can improve your life in many ways, both physical and mental, so it's important to find what works for you.
To learn more, please reach out to our dental practice at(509) 946-9313 or schedule an appointment, and we'll guide you further. You can visit us at 90 Columbia Point Drive, Richland, WA 99352, to have a consultation with our dentists.