Stress can take a toll on your mind and body in many ways, including indigestion, migraine headaches and insomnia. Some lesser known effects of stress occur in the mouth. Dr. Wayne Sutton of Sonoma Smiles discusses some of stress-related dental issues in this blog post.
Research shows that stress can increase the chance of developing canker sores, which are small white or gray spots with red borders that can appear individually or in clusters inside of the mouth. One study published by the Academy of General Dentistry found that students were more likely to develop canker sores during the school year and less likely to develop them during breaks and after graduation (when stress is presumably less of an issue).
Teeth Grinding (Bruxism)
Teeth grinding (bruxism) is often a side effect of stress. Some people are not aware that they grind their teeth as it can occur while they sleep. Symptoms of teeth grinding include waking up with headaches in the morning and a sore jaw. Constantly grinding your teeth can also wear down tooth enamel which in turn can lead to tooth sensitivity. Teeth grinding can also put stress on your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and cause a slew of problems including pain, headaches, difficult chewing and a misaligned bite.
Numerous studies have found that stress can increase the risk of developing gum disease. If left untreated, gum diseases can lead to tooth loss. Additionally, studies from several leading universities have also found that the severity of gum disease increased with the amount of stress in a person’s life. Good oral health habits including regular brushing and flossing and seeing the dentist twice a year are important in preventing gum disease.
If you believe stress has taken a toll on your mouth, Dr. Sutton recommends several coping strategies to relieve stress. Yoga, deep breathing and getting plenty of sleep can help. Dr. Sutton also advises you schedule an appointment with your dentist to discuss your treatment options, should your dental issues persist even after managing your stress. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Sutton, please contact (707) 585-2555 today.
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(All photos of actual patients)