Everyone suffers from stress to varying degrees, but some of us experience chronic stress that results in debilitating consequences for our health. While it’s common knowledge that stress contributes to muscular pain and other physical issues, many people don’t realize that stress can also affect your oral health.
Explore our guide to learn about the relationship between stress and tooth decay, among other dental issues.
How Stress Affects Your Teeth
High stress has been linked to a variety of oral health conditions, all of which can contribute to broader issues. Some of these include:
- Dry Mouth — Stress or anxiety can reduce the flow of saliva in your mouth, as can the antidepressants and other medications prescribed to treat it. Also known as xerostomia, dry mouth leaves you prone to harmful bacteria that erode your tooth enamel and often lead to infection.
- Teeth Grinding — Excessively clenching or grinding your teeth, a condition known as bruxism, can damage your enamel in addition to causing headaches and jaw pain. Worst of all, bruxism can change the alignment of your bite over time.
- Tooth Decay — There are a variety of reasons that stress is linked to tooth decay, one of which is your increased risk of dry mouth. Stress also makes you more likely to choose unhealthy meals and neglect your oral care routine. To make matters worse, decayed teeth often lead to further issues, such as gum disease and even tooth loss.
The Impact of Tooth Decay on Your Health
Tooth decay describes the erosion of your tooth enamel and the damage to structures around your teeth, which is caused by acids that are produced when plaque breaks down sugar. Without treatment, it can lead to holes in your teeth called cavities. If a cavity is allowed to grow larger, it’ll eventually destroy your tooth and necessitate an extraction.
If you feel recurring pain or pressure in your tooth, or if you notice pus around the edges, get in touch with your dentist and seek treatment right away. In its early stages, a cavity can typically be treated with a filling. Teeth that are more severely decayed may require a root canal or a dental crown.
Treating Tooth Loss
If you don’t receive treatment in time, cavities can lead to tooth loss. In cases like these, it’s essential that you find a replacement as soon as possible to avoid further health issues. As the only restoration that protects your oral health in addition to enhancing your smile, dental implants are typically the best choice.
A dental implant restores your tooth from root to crown, looking and functioning just like a natural tooth. They’re easy to clean, highly durable, and can last a lifetime with proper care. Best of all, the titanium implant fixture fuses directly with your jawbone to stimulate healthy growth in a process known as osseointegration. This is the key to implants’ success, and it’s what sets them apart from other restorations.
If you’ve lost a tooth as a result of stress-induced decay, or for any other reason, visit a qualified implant provider like Dr. Brian Klym in Petoskey, MI. As a Diplomate of the International Congress of Oral Implantologists (ICOI), he’s completed the necessary training to ensure you can trust him with your smile.
Full Arch Replacement
Though the most common implant procedure is single tooth replacement, dental implants can be used to replace any number of missing teeth. If you’ve reached the point where you need to restore a full arch, you may feel that it’s too late for you to save your smile.
However, this isn’t the case, thanks to full-arch implant dentures. Using four to six specialized implants that maximize your available bone tissue, your dentist can permanently anchor a complete denture to your jaw. With this convenient method, you can enjoy the benefits of a healthy and beautiful smile after just one appointment.
Though not all dentists offer this option, you should be able to find an experienced provider near you. For patients in the area of Gilbert, AZ, Dr. Sheldon Sullivan is an excellent choice. With over 20 years of experience, he can help you achieve your dream smile and protect your oral health for many years to come.
Treating Stress-Related Bruxism
In addition to causing tooth decay and cavities, stress has also been linked to bruxism. Beyond hurting your jaw and damaging your teeth, bruxism can gradually shift the alignment of your bite, a condition known as malocclusion. This leads to a range of issues, including difficulty eating and speech problems.
If your teeth are misaligned, you should seek orthodontic treatment as soon as possible. While traditional braces are effective, many patients feel self-conscious about wearing them or don’t want to deal with the inconvenience. For these patients, Invisalign® clear aligners offer a perfect solution.
Discreet, removable, and comfortable to wear, Invisalign has changed the possibilities of orthodontic care. If you want to straighten your smile, visit a certified Invisalign orthodontist such as Dr. Stephen Grussmark in Miami, FL. He’s the only Diamond Plus provider in all of Dade County, the top designation awarded by Invisalign.
Manage Your Stress to Protect Your Smile
Research has linked stress to a variety of oral health conditions, most notably tooth decay. While regular brushing and flossing help to mitigate this, along with frequent trips to your dentist, finding ways to manage your stress is also crucial. If you don’t, you run the risk of allowing these issues to reoccur.
Stress affects everyone differently and can result from a variety of factors, but there are a few proven ways to reduce stress. The most noteworthy include exercising, making free time for your hobbies, sleeping regularly, and practicing meditation such as yoga.
By managing your stress, you’ll reduce your risk of oral health problems and keep your smile shining for many years to come.