Smile Concepts,
91 Lode Lane
Solihull, B91 2HH

Call us 0121 705 2705

Stress and Oral Health

Modern life can be stressful.  The Health and Safety Executive defines stress as ‘The adverse reaction people have to excessive pressure or other types of demands placed on them. It is the body’s natural response to a demanding situation.

Whilst we all need a certain amount of pressure to keep us mentally alert and motivated; too much stress can have a very detrimental affect on your quality of life and subsequently on your health.  Your oral health can also be affected putting you at risk of a number of different conditions that can affect your mouth, teeth and gums.

image of stress and oral health

Too much stress can have a detrimental affect on your oral health.

Bruxism

The technical term for jaw clenching and teeth grinding is called bruxism.  More often than not this  happens during sleep so you may not even realise that you are doing it.

If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms it could be that you are grinding or clenching your teeth subconsciously;

  • Sore muscles in the head and neck
  • Your teeth may feel more sensitive if they are wearing down
  • Clicking or popping noises in your jaw
  • A stiff or locked jaw or trouble opening your mouth wide
  • Ear, head or neck ache

You should make an appointment with your dentist who will be able to carry out an examination and offer help and advice.  Sometimes a mouthguard is recommended for sleeping.

Daytime bruxism can occur too, if this is happening to you, try to keep your mouth relaxed and your teeth apart when you are not eating.

TMD and TMJ

Temporomandibular disorders (TMD) are a range of disorders that can affect the muscles and joints in the jaw and neck.

Temporomandibular Joint disorder is a condition that is specific to the joint that connects your lower jaw to your skull.  Sore muscles and a clicking or popping of the jaw are indicators and constant clenching of the jaw can be the cause.

Again, if you think this could be affecting you, seek medical advice.

Dry Mouth

Some medicines that are used to treat stress and anxiety can have a drying effect on the mouth plus, feeling tense can cause you to breathe more rapidly and this in turn can dry your mouth out.

When the mouth is dry and not producing enough saliva; food particles, debris and bacteria are not being rinsed away and this can lead to cavities, tooth decay and gum disease.

Keep your mouth hydrated and fresh by drinking water throughout the day.  Eating crunchy fruit and vegetables can increase saliva production as can chewing sugar-free gum or sucking sugar-free sweets/mints.

Gum Disease

Too much stress can weaken your immune system which can mean that you are less able to fight infections.

A good oral care routine is always important; but when you are feeling tired and under pressure it is easy to let things slide, don’t be tempted to skip the toothbrushing before getting into bed at night.

Eat plenty of immune boosting foods such as beetroot, blueberries, garlic, green vegetables, brazil nuts and ginger.

Mouth Cancer

When you are feeling under pressure it’s easy to revert to bad habits.  Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption both massively increase the risk of developing mouth cancer so try to find alternative ways to relax.

Canker Sores

Small spots that have a white or greyish base and a red border are called canker sores.  It is unclear why they occur, but it could be down to a weakened immune system, a virus or bacteria and increased anxiety will increase the chance of getting them.

They should clear up in about 10 days and in the meantime avoid spicy, acidic or hot foods that will irritate them.

Cold Sores

The herpes simplex virus causes cold sores.  Feeling upset, tired and run down can trigger an attack.  They should heal on their own, but there are plenty of over the counter remedies that can help.  Start treatment when you feel the tingling effect of one coming.

How to Combat Stress

A well balanced lifestyle, following a healthy diet and taking regular exercise will all help to tackle the pressures that can sometimes overwhelm us and have an adverse effect on our health and wellbeing.

image of combatting stress

You can play to combat stress…

Here are some suggestions for relatively easy ways to combat stress –

  • Try to get 8 hours sleep a night, everything looks worse when you are tired and unable to perform.
  • Eat regularly and healthily.
  • Reduce your intake of caffeine and stimulants such as coffee, sugary foods and drinks.
  • Take regular exercise.  Physical activity will increase the production of endorphins, your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters.
  • Practice yoga or tai chi for relaxation.
  • Enjoy the benefits of a relaxing massage.
  • Take up a relaxing hobby or regularly do something that makes you happy.
  • SMILE more.  A genuine smile, where you smile enough to squint your eyes, boosts your immune system by decreasing cortisol (the stress hormone).

If you are worried about any aspect of your oral health or would like to arrange an appointment for dental treatment please contact our reception team on 0121 705 2705.