Can Stress or Anxiety Affect My Oral Health?

Dr Hanigofksy leaning on a bridge railing

If you are experiencing heightened levels of stress and anxiety, such tension could be making more problems than you know for your teeth. You may already know these health concerns are commonly associated with a long list of diseases throughout the body, but what about your oral health? Discover what impact your emotional state may be having on your teeth and gums.

Signs of Emotional Stress
A marriage or divorce, new job or job loss, a birth or death in the family, and a dramatic injury or change to your physical health can result in abnormally high stress levels. However, ongoing stressful situations at work and home can also take an unhealthy toll. The warning signs typically manifest as:

  • Physical Pain (anywhere in the body)
  • Difficulty With Breathing
  • Dizziness
  • Sleep Disruption or Insomnia
  • Mood Swings
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Hypersensitivity
  • Numbing or Tingling Sensations
  • Hives
  • Shaking
  • Dry Mouth
  • Halitosis
  • Tooth Grinding

Often times, physicians are unable to find the underlying cause for the symptoms to give a proper diagnosis. If left untreated, these stress-caused symptoms can become a real threat to your health and longevity.

Which Illnesses are Linked With Stress?
There are a large number of illnesses commonly associated with stress such as:

  •  Hypertension
  • Insomnia or Other Sleeping Disorders
  • Eating Disorders
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • High Cholesterol
  • Compressed Arteries
  • Reduced Ability to Heal
  • Lowered Immune System
  • Forgetfulness
  • TMJ
  • Periodontal Disease (Gum Disease)
  • Tooth Loss
  • Canker Sores
  • Bite Alignment Issues
  • Cavities
  • Broken Teeth

Therefore, when your doctor asks questions about your work and home life, be sure to disclose any recent changes you have noticed in your relationships, lifestyle, physical health, or daily routine. This is critical information for each visit to the doctor’s office, such as your wellness check-ups with your primary care physician, OBGYN, or dentist. It helps to keep an ongoing list of these changes as well as symptoms you have been experiencing and medications you are taking in your phone notepad to present at your appointments. When creating these lists, note the start date, frequency, and duration to help your doctor provide you with the most effective treatment plan to manage your stress-linked symptoms and illnesses.

How Does My Dentist Combat the Harmful Effects of Stress on My Oral Health?
Tightened arteries, clenched or grinding teeth, lowered immune system, dry mouth, and neglected oral hygiene due to depression, chronic fatigue, or anxiety can produce a myriad of oral health concerns. The good news is your dentist is your first line of defense against many damaging illnesses in your body as a multitude of diseases show up in the mouth first. Moreover, your dentist can reduce or eliminate the negative effects of stress on your teeth and gum tissue with regular cleanings and expert counsel along with sealants, cavity detection and fillings, nightguards, snoring treatments, free gingival and connective tissue grafting, crowns, root canals, and oral health screenings. By taking a proactive stance with routine oral healthcare exams and recommended procedures, you are minimizing your risk of more serious damage and complications that are often accompanied by unnecessary pain, embarrassment, and a higher financial cost to repair.

Is There Such Thing as Good Stress?
Marriage, a new job, and a new baby are all examples of exciting moments in your life that may be accompanied by a heightened nervous system response. This is your body gearing up to produce more energy, focus, and strength. Unfortunately, even good stress is still resulting in a taxed nervous system and autoimmune system. The longer the stressor continues to impact your lifestyle, emotions, or physical body, the greater the chance your health will suffer.

What can I Do to Lower My Stress Levels?
Whenever possible, try to temporarily remove yourself from emotionally taxing conversations or actions until you are able to collect your thoughts and move forward with more clarity. Of course, avoiding stressful encounters and situations is not always possible and the lingering effect on your health can be challenging to manage. Maintaining good hygiene and healthy lifestyle habits in addition to keeping your wellness appointments can significantly improve your chances of reducing the level of stress-associated harm to your mouth and other areas of your body.

Thus, when it comes to your oral health and overall health, your dentist plays a vital role in disease and stress-related symptom detection and treatment. At Dental Health Concepts, Dr. Hanigofsky and Dr. Powell are ready to assist you with all your oral healthcare and hygiene needs. Don’t let stress create more damaging effects on your oral health. Contact our office at (828) 322-2133 or fill out our contact form to set up your wellness appointment, elective procedure, new patient exam, or free dental consultation today!