Have you ever caught yourself with a clenched shoulder, biting your nails or grinding your teeth unconsciously in moments of stress, anxiety or deep concentration? All of us have been there, even for once where we are caught, by ourselves or others, asked to release our body, take a deep breath and relax.
What is about this involuntary body reaction that we are sometimes too unaware of? Why do we start relying on these responses to become a habit? The idea of developing coping mechanisms is a topic for another day. However, these are involuntary reactions to certain cognitive functions related to stress, anxiety and depression that cause us to either stiffen our body, bite nails, peel off skin or pluck our hair.
In this blog, we will specifically build upon the idea of stress and some of its oral health implications. Listed are some conditioned responses, as we call them to be ‘habits’, to stress that can create or exacerbate oral health complications.
Bruxism (Teeth Grinding)
One of the most common effects of stress on oral health is developing signs of teeth grinding. People who encounter situations causing stress and anxiety start grinding teeth. Severe bruxism can negatively impact tooth structure, causing the enamel to erode and making them more susceptible to damage in the form of chipping and breaking.
Ulcers and Sores
Stress can be a contributing factor for individuals to develop sores and mouth ulcers. Each person’s body has a different way of communicating stress. Some may show signs of unexplained weight loss, others may develop fever or resort to unhealthy habits. One signifier of stress and anxiety can include severe and recurrent phases of mouth ulcers with slow or no healing.
Xerostomia (Dry Mouth)
The human body is an integrated system of functions that need to work coordinately and collaboratively. Stress can imbue its effects on physical health. One of them is dry mouth. Stress and anxiety can hinder saliva formation causing the mouth to dry. Dry mouth then leads to bad breath.
Effects on mental health causes an individual to become disconnected with the outside world. Neglect may take forms of social withdrawal, less or no account of maintaining health and tidiness etc. Hence, in some cases people with stress are least likely to follow an oral care routine. They may skip brushing or develop habits of snacking on high sugar content foods and drinks beyond control.
Stress can lead to a compromised immune system negatively impacting gum health. Stress causes the body to become receptive to negative change simultaneously slowing healing and recovery. Hence, gum infections can come as byproducts of mental health issues.
Mental health issues like stress and anxiety have effects on oral health. Some examples include teeth grinding, sores, gum infections, dry mouth and individual neglect. Depending on the severity, certain behavioral changes, mindful activities and relaxation methods can help minimize and curb effects of stress on oral health.
If you develop extreme oral issues that are becoming a hassle to manage needing urgent medical intervention, head to expert orthodontists at Waller Dental. Call us at (936) 372-2673.