Stress can affect many aspects of our lives. During times like these, we understand stress is at an all time high. Everyone responds to it in different ways. But did you know stress affects not just your mind, but your body as well? That includes your mouth.

Your bodies response to stress.

Everyone responds to stress differently, so our bodies react differently. Not everyone will experience the same symptoms of stress, and some may experience it more severely than others. When you’re under stress it makes it more difficult for your body to fight off infections, which can increase your risk of gum disease.

A vitamin B deficiency is the most common cause of a canker sore, but stress can also encourage those pesky ulcers. Unlike cold sores, canker sores aren’t contagious. However, they can be painful and make it difficult to eat. These usually go away on their own within a few days.

Stress and anxiety can also cause chronic teeth grinding, or jaw clenching. This is also known as, Bruxism. Teeth grinding, or jaw clenching can be done while you’re sleeping making it difficult to catch when you’re doing it. Bruxism can result in many issues such as, headaches, sleep disruption, increased tooth pain or sensitivity, tired or tight jaw muscles, stripping of teeth enamel, damage to your cheek due to excessive chewing and other damage to your teeth.

Unhealthy coping mechanisms also affect your oral health (as well as your physical). Smoking cigarettes, biting your nails, drinking excess amounts of alcohol, and junk food, all lead to a higher risk of gum disease.

Managing stress and taking control of your oral health.

There are ways to help manage your stress that benefit your oral health. Getting regular exercise and eating a balanced diet is the key to any healthy lifestyle. A well balanced diet can help you feel better in general, but also may help control moods. Eating foods that are good for you also build up your enamel for strong, healthy teeth and gums.

To mange teeth jaw clenching, or teeth grinding – keep your lips together and your teeth slightly apart throughout the day. You can also gently massage the outer part of the jaw to release tension. Stretch your jaw muscles, and get either a nightguard or bite splint.

Your dentist will be able to help you take proactive measures to help you manage your stress related symptoms. As always, make sure you prioritize your yearly visits. Oral health is health.