The impact that stress has on the body should never be underestimated and today we are going to explore specifically how stress affects your oral and dental health.
How does stress affect your dental health?
Grinding and clenching
We’ve likely all been there – nerves, stress, and anxiety can result in us grinding and clenching our teeth and most of the time we don’t even notice we’re doing it. The technical term for grinding and clenching is bruxism which, over time, can lead to chronic headaches, jaw pain, and fractured and worn teeth. Your dentist here at Smile Up can treat this by prescribing a custom-made mouth guard to wear at night or what is known as an occlusal splint, both of which even out the pressure across your jaw, creating a barrier between your upper and lower teeth and protecting them from further damage.
Gum disease and stress
A series of studies carried out between 1990 and 2006 found that there was a direct link between high stress levels and gum disease. In times of stress, the body produces increased levels of a hormone known as cortisol, affecting the immune system and opening the body up to the increased likelihood of developing gum disease. It’s important to remember that gum disease often does not have symptoms until it becomes quite serious, which is why regular hygienist visits are essential as in many cases you will not be able to detect signs yourself at home.
Canker sores and mouth ulcers
As in the case of grinding and clenching, most of us will have had a mouth ulcer or canker sore at some point in life. These usually occur when our immune system is suffering due to a virus such as a cold but can also manifest because of stress, lack of sleep, and overworking. Both canker sores and mouth ulcers can make eating certain foods and brushing your teeth painful, so if you’re prone to them you may find they are impairing your ability to maintain good oral hygiene. Your hygienist and dentist can advise you on how to keep these at bay and offer ideas on how to change your lifestyle habits to avoid the stress triggering them.
Dental phobia & stress over visiting the dentist
Dental phobia is a very real phenomenon for many people in the UK. In fact, dental phobia affects 36% of the population, with 12% of sufferers feeling extreme dental-related anxiety. Here at Smile Up we believe that no-one should feel stressed about visiting the dentist and our team will always help to find solutions to dental phobia. We can offer IV sedation to patients who are in need of treatment but are apprehensive about the dentist’s chair. IV sedation has helped many people in Lewisham to undergo treatment, inducing a relaxed state of the mind. It also has amnesic effects, so you may not even remember having treatment but you will still be able to co-operate with the dentist should they need you to open your mouth a little wider, for example. You can read more about how IV sedation can re-invent the way you view the dentist here.
If you are suffering from stress and aren’t sure how to address it, please do not hesitate to talk to your dentist at Smile Up – our team members are compassionate, patient and understanding. They know that everyone’s stress is personal, and requires tailored advice. Don’t suffer in silence!
If you would like to book an appointment with us you can use our hassle-free booking form. Alternatively, give us a call and our friendly team will be happy to arrange this for you at your convenience. Our practice is easily accessible, being less than a 10-minute walk from Deptford Bridge DLR and a short walk from numerous bus stops. If you’re looking for a Beckenham dentist, we are only a 25 minute drive away here in Lewisham.