Some days are just destined to be stressful. You wake up late, can’t find your keys, get stuck in traffic, have a hectic day at work, need to pick up the kids (but first stop by the store), get home just in time to make dinner…whew! No wonder you’re totally stressed out. Days like this that seem like a perpetual Monday can definitely take their toll, not only on your physical and mental health but also on your teeth. That’s right, stress can even make your teeth hurt!
Stress and Tooth Trouble
Headaches, irritability, and exhaustion are all typical signs of stress, but living a less-than-calm life can affect more than your mood, well-being, and energy level. Believe it or not, stress and tooth pain often go hand-in-hand. In fact, stress can negatively affect your teeth in multiple ways.
That stress-induced headache could very well stem from unconsciously clenching or grinding your teeth, a condition known as bruxism, which brings the term “the daily grind” to a whole new level. Grinding your teeth is a common response to stress and can occur during the day, though mostly at night while you are sleeping. This can result in a host of dental problems that if left unaddressed, will only add to your stress! Bruxism can damage crowns, wear away tooth enamel, and cause pain, lockjaw, tooth sensitivity, and more. It can even disrupt your sleep, making you even more tired and irritable.
If you’re feeling stressed and pressed for time, that can cause you to grab quick meals that aren’t necessarily nutritious and are often high in sugar — not your teeth’s best friend by any means. To make matters worse, eating on the run can lead to acid reflux which can damage teeth by eating away at enamel and increasing your risk of tooth decay.
Because stress can wreak havoc on your immune system, it can make you more susceptible to gum disease. Add in a tendency to neglect self-care when stressed — such as skipping dental appointments, brushing less, and forgetting to floss — and your chances of gum disease increase even more. Anxiously biting your nails transfers germs into your mouth as well, piling on to your likelihood of infection.
High anxiety can also lead to dry mouth, a condition that deprives your teeth of saliva’s oral health benefits like its ability to wash away harmful food particles stuck in your teeth and gums. Burning Mouth Syndrome is another condition that can be triggered by stress, resulting in gum and tooth pain. In addition, this disease is exacerbated by smoking and drinking — two habits often increased due to stress.
Less Stress. Less Tooth Pain.
While we all get stressed out from time-to-time, it’s important to have strategies in place to reduce your stress levels as much as possible. Identify triggers and try to avoid them. Make sure to exercise regularly, eat a healthy, balanced diet, and take time to relax. Get plenty of sleep and use stress-relieving techniques like deep breathing and meditation. By reducing the stress in your life, you will reduce your risk of tooth pain and problems.
If you are experiencing stress-related tooth pain, it’s a good idea to visit your dentist. Contact Weber, Mountford, and Ruszkowski to book your next appointment online or by dialing 616-842-0822 today. There are plenty of things in life to get stressed out about, your teeth shouldn’t be one of them!