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Nearly everyone experiences stress at some point or another. However, when stress persists for prolonged periods of time, or is a part of everyday life, it takes its toll on the body. Chronic stress can suppress many systems of the body, including the immune, reproductive and digestive systems, causing them to malfunction.
As trusted Irvine dentists, Dr. Ali Mansouri and Dr. Shery Mansouri of Serene Dental Center are particularly attuned to the effects of stress on the mouth. Here, we break down the ways that stress can manifest in your mouth, how it can hurt your oral health and what to do about it.
Canker sores are small ulcers that develop in the mouth. Usually harmless, they can be trigged by stress. The Academy of General Dentistry published a report that showed students have a high prevalence of canker sores during the school year but less frequent sores during parts of the year that are less stressful, like breaks and after graduating school.
Stress causes some people to repeatedly grind or clench their teeth — sometimes without even knowing it! Constant teeth grinding can flatten the tips of the teeth and rub off tooth enamel, leading to significant tooth sensitivity.
Constant teeth grinding can wear down the jaw muscles and the jaw joint, known as the TMJ (temporomandibular joint). When overworked, the TMJ can cause headaches, neck aches, clicking or popping noises when opening the mouth, difficulty opening and closing the mouth and jaw pain when chewing. If left untreated, TMJ problems can cause significant damage to the bite and jaw.
Manage stress as best possible with meditation, yoga, exercise, therapy or even massage. Do what you can to minimize tension and relax.
Ask your dentist about a mouth guard if you know that you grind your teeth. A mouth guard can protect the tops of your teeth from the damage of constant grinding or clenching.
Continue to follow good oral care practices. Don’t let stress prevent you from continuing good oral hygiene habits. Remember to brush twice a day, floss daily and schedule regular check-ups with your dentist.
For more information about the effects of stress on your mouth, please contact Serene Dental Center by calling (949) 748-7373 or sending us an email.