Social distancing, isolation from friends and family, and the fear of catching and spreading coronavirus have undoubtedly led individuals to an increased level of stress across the past 15 months of the pandemic. Stress can negatively impact numerous aspects of your physical and mental health, contributing to uncomfortable headaches, chest pain, fatigue, and sleep problems, among other common symptoms. 1
Considering oral health plays a huge role in physical health, it is also heavily impacted by stress. Fortunately, there are several ways you can save your smile from stress’s harmful influence.
The Link Between Stress and Negative Oral Health Outcomes
Studies show that stress and oral health are linked in many ways. Some of the most common oral health concerns that are easily exacerbated, influenced, or caused by stress include:
- Teeth grinding in the day or while sleeping, otherwise known as bruxism
- Dry mouth, or xerostomia
- Painful canker sores
- Gingivitis and periodontal disease
- Cavities and decay
- Burning Mouth Syndrome
5 Tips To Save Your Smile From Stress
Stress does not have to dictate your oral health, comfort, and hygiene. If you are seeking ways to prioritize your oral health during stressful times, consider these five simple lifestyle techniques:
#1: Mouth Stretching
Bruxism and clenching caused by stress can lead to a sore mouth and jaw. It may even become so tight your jaw may feel locked into place. 2 You can mitigate these uncomfortable symptoms with the help of gently stretching the mouth and jaw open, side to side, and in a smile. Perform these mouth stretches daily to alleviate tension.
#2: Stay Hydrated
As dry mouth is commonly caused by stress and anxiety,3 it is important to stay hydrated throughout the day. Ample water and salivary flow in the mouth can also flush away excess bacteria and food particles, reducing the risk of plaque and tartar buildup.
#3: Schedule Routine Dental Appointments
If it has been over 6 months since your last dental appointment due to the pandemic, now is the ideal time to schedule a check-up. Not only will regular dental cleanings and checkups reduce your risk for developing cavities and gum disease, but they are also an opportunity to discuss any stress-related concerns with your dentist.
#4: Limit Sugar Intake
You are already prone to more plaque buildup from dry mouth when under stress; therefore, it’s important to avoid excessive alcohol, soda, or sugary snacks. When too much sugar and acidity sit in the mouth throughout the day, it can easily break down your tooth’s enamel, putting you at higher risk for cavities.
#5: Treat The Underlying Stress
While all the techniques above can help to reduce the effects stress has on your oral health, tackling the source of the stress head-on is the only solution to alleviate any issues completely. With lower stress levels, you will be at a reduced risk of developing gum disease and other oral health concerns.
Additional activities that reduce stress levels throughout the body include: 4
- Take walks in nature
Gain Peace of Mind with Empire Dental Care
If you find yourself dealing with any stress-related oral problems, know that you are not alone. By integrating these simple practices into your everyday life, you can save your smile from stress.
Empire Dental Care provides comprehensive dental care to solve a variety of stress-induced dental concerns. To discuss the impact of stress on your oral health, contact our team at 585.671.1650 today.