How Does Stress Affect Oral Health?

Posted by Todd Curley May 22,2023

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Your mouth is considered a part of your body and shows evidence of your physical health. Therefore, your oral health is an indicator of your overall health and well-being. If you suffer from health complications such as diabetes or heart disease, it’s more likely that you will also experience additional oral problems. The more risk factors you have for poor oral health, the more likely it is that you will develop an oral infection at some point in your life. The most common types of infections include periodontal (gum) disease, tooth decay, and oral cancer. If you’re experiencing any of these issues, it’s best to set up an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible.

When you don’t take care of your mouth, you’re also increasing the risk of a number of serious health issues. Poor oral hygiene is associated with other health problems such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, and pneumonia. Whether stress is a cause or a symptom of these health conditions remains up for debate. However, the relationship between stress and overall health is quite clear. Stress can weaken your immune system, making you more susceptible to illness. It can also affect certain hormones that manage your appetite. Chronic stress can also make you less likely to exercise and eat healthy foods, which can increase your risk for diabetes, obesity, and other health problems.

How Stress Affects Oral Health

It’s not completely clear how stress affects oral health, but it can affect the way you care for your teeth. When you’re feeling stressed, you may have trouble sleeping at night, which makes it more difficult to brush and floss your teeth during the day. You may also avoid seeing the dentist for regular checkups and cleanings. Some common signs of stress-induced oral care issues are teeth grinding, jaw clenching, and pulling loose teeth out. All of these can cause damage to the teeth and gums. 

It’s also possible that stress can contribute to plaque buildup and inflammation in the mouth. Inflammation can also cause increased gum sensitivity and bleeding when you brush and floss. Additionally, elevated cortisol levels can keep your immune system from functioning properly, which puts you at risk for infections like cold sores and herpes simplex. High cortisol levels can also lead to diabetes and heart disease. Finally, because stress increases the amount of plaque that forms on your teeth, it is vital that you maintain good oral hygiene habits during times of stress. Brushing twice daily for two minutes each session and flossing once a day will help to keep bacteria at bay. You should also consider chewing sugar-free gum with xylitol, as it can help reduce the acid levels in the mouth that can cause tooth decay.

To learn more, contact Todd Curley D.D.S. at Hot Springs Rd, Ste D110, Murrieta 39755, or phone (951) 698-6220.

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