We all know that too much stress can be bad for us, and we’ve heard most of the physical ailments that can accompany it – insomnia, headaches, muscle pain…but have you ever considered the impact stress can have on your oral health? No, me neither! That’s why I thought I would share these 7 signs that, as well as needing to see your dentist, you may also need to look at how you manage your stress. Thank you to Dr. Richard Marques for putting this list together 👨⚕️
1. If you notice your teeth are becoming translucent or getting shorter this may be due to Bruxism (grinding) of the teeth. You may need a bite guard to protect the teeth from wearing further.
2. If you feel an ache or clicking in your jaw joint this may be a sign of stress. You may need a treatment for the jaw, such as a special splint or even Botox to relax the muscle. This may sound strange, but it’s only upon reading this that I’ve realised the association between my jaw clicking and my anxiety being high! Oh the joys of hindsight 🙈
3. If you notice your gums are bleeding more this can be a sign of gum disease (gingivitis or periodontitis), which can be caused or exacerbated by stress. You might need a gum treatment such as deep cleaning (root planing).
4. Dental abscesses can be caused as during times of stress your body can be unable to fight off gum infections. Antibiotics or further treatment may be required for this.
5. Root canal problems can also be caused by stress if the grinding becomes so severe that the nerves of the teeth are exposed. Root canal treatment may then be needed to remove the nerve from the teeth.
6. Bad breath can be a sign of stress. Stomach acids can build and lead to reflux and other compounds that causes bad breath. You will need to see your GP for this and may need treatment with antacids or other medication. This may require further investigation of the stomach lining.
7. Cheek biting is a definite sign of stress. For some people, this is a habit that is developed to cope with stress. Acupuncture or hypnosis are treatments that can be used to help relax and prevent this.
Of course, all of the above can be improved or cured by your friendly local dentist…but there’s no point fixing the effect and ignoring the cause. If you think your oral health, or any other part of your physical health is being negatively affected by stress, it’s probably time to ask for help. The NHS website has this awesome section on stress, anxiety and depression if you want to do some online research first, but the best step is to speak to your GP and explore how you can better manage stress or anxiety.