Anxiety and stress affects your health in many different ways. Although it is mainly a psychological disorder, it manifests in a range of physical symptoms that can cause your physical health to deteriorate. Panic attacks are the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the problems that stress cause your body. When it comes to the ways in which stress affects the teeth, problems often remain hidden for a long time.
Anxiety and Your Oral Health
A variety of potential oral problems can occur as the result of anxiety and experts are suggesting that the connection between oral and mental health may be even stronger than what we initially believed. Here are some examples:
When people are stressed or depressed, their health and appearance usually become less of a priority. They become so wrapped up in other issues, that their oral and general health is pushed to the bottom of their to-do-lists.
There's a strong link between stress and acid reflux, although the conditions may exist separately. Either way, stomach acids caused by reflux can damage the enamel of your teeth.
Whether or not anxiety causes medically serious dry mouth, saliva is needed to keep your mouth clean. When your mouth is dry - either due to stress and anxiety, or due to dehydration - the pH levels in your mouth will be leaning towards acidic, which can eat away at the enamel of your teeth, causing them to deteriorate.
We usually associate canker sores with a weakened immune system, which is also a symptom of stress. If you have been getting a lot of canker sores, it is possible that you are run down. Pay closer attention to your physical health by finding ways to reduce stress and visit your dentist for advice on how to care for your oral health.
Long-term stress has a profoundly negative effect on your immune system. When your immune system is compromised, you have a harder time warding off bacteria, and that makes you more susceptible to gum disease.
Bruxism (Teeth Grinding)
You may not realize it, but if you are under severe stress, you may grind your teeth or clench your jaw at night while you are sleeping. Speak to your dentist about getting a night guard to protect your teeth, because it can wear down your enamel, leading to sensitivity and decay. It may even cause permanent damage to your jaw.
TMJ / TMD Disorders
Stress can both trigger and aggravate temporomandibular joint disorder by causing you to unconsciously clench your teeth and to tighten your jaw muscles. This added strain on the joints, face and jaw muscles can cause severe pain.
When faced with stressful situations, it is important to maintain a good handle on oral health and practice good dental hygiene. Stress is (usually) temporary, but damage to your teeth, gums and jaws can become a lifelong battle. Don't let a moment of madness become a lifetime of sadness, pain and discomfort.