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Stressed Out? 5 Ways Your Stress May Be Affecting Your Oral Health

According to the American Psychological Association, 80% of Americans have endured the physical and emotional symptoms of stress in the last year. You may be surprised to find, however, that these symptoms—such as poor nutrition, feeling overwhelmed, and lack of sleep—can make you susceptible to a number of oral health issues as well. If you are going through a very stressful period in your life, be sure to keep an eye on your oral health so as to prevent any of the following problems.

1. Stress increases your risk of gingivitis and gum disease.

Gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease, is caused by bacteria that build up along your gum line. And when you’re stressed, you release a hormone called cortisol, which can deplete your immune system and allow bacteria to thrive. These bacteria then wreak havoc on your gums, causing them to become inflamed. If this should go untreated for an extended period of time, you may be at risk for gum disease. Gum disease is quite serious, so if you find that you’re gums may be unhealthy as of late, be sure to get them checked out right away before the issue can progress!

2. You could potentially suffer from TMJ disorders.

Frustration and stress can often lead you to clench your teeth. However, if this happens too often, it could actually cause some problems for your jaw and neck! TMJ disorders (affecting the temporomandibular joints, or jaw joint) can be aggravating these jaw muscles that are used to clench your teeth. It can lead to pain in the jaw joint, popping and clicking sounds when you open your mouth or chew, and even difficulties with opening and closing your mouth.

3. You may be grinding your teeth in your sleep.

Nighttime bruxism is actually one of the most common stress-related oral health issues. Unfortunately, the more stressed you are, the more severe your bruxism can be. This is because clenching and grinding your teeth reduces stress hormones as you sleep the same way that shouting might relieve stress while you’re awake. However, if you grind your teeth in your sleep, you may be wearing down your dental enamel, causing a number of oral health issues down the road. It can also cause headaches, facial pain, and even cracked teeth.

4. You might have painful canker sores.

As mentioned above, stress can significantly deplete your immune system. This allows for issues like canker sores, also known as mouth ulcers, to arise. While these are not contagious, they can be quite painful. They can be caused by trauma—such as biting your cheek or brushing too hard—or even by stress alone.

5. Some medications for stress can cause dry mouth.

Certain medications for stress are known to cause dry mouth, an issue that results from your saliva glands not producing enough saliva to keep your mouth moistened. This can lead to a number of oral health issues, such as tooth decay and discomfort while chewing or swallowing.

Have you been suffering from any of the above issues? Call Caputo Dental today to schedule an appointment in our Naperville office! We’ll make sure that your oral health is one less thing you need to stress about!

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