Patient at MI Smiles Dental in West Michigan

Feeling stressed is a natural part of life. However, it’s best to limit how much stress you experience on a daily basis, or it can have some less than desirable effects on your body. A few of those effects can materialize in your mouth of all places but luckily, our dentists at MI Smiles Dental are here to help.

Here are 4 ways stress can take a toll on your oral health and a few corresponding treatments designed to repair or reduce damage caused.

Stress and Your Body: What Are the Effects?

If you’ve ever been stressed over an upcoming deadline, family situation, or another thing entirely, you know the power it can have on your well-being. By this we’re referring to both the physical and emotional symptoms of stress such as:

  • Headaches
  • Stomachaches
  • Irritability or anger
  • Anxiety
  • Muscle tension or pain
  • Fatigue
  • Sleep disruption
  • Diet changes

Most people, however, do not consider the effects of stress when it comes to the jaws, teeth, and gums. Your oral health is just as important as your overall health so it’s key that you watch out for warning signs and aim to reduce your stress levels.

Depending on how exactly stress is impacting your oral health, our team of dentists can recommend helpful procedures, dental appliances, or at-home coping tips. Do not hesitate to contact one of our many office locations if you have jaw issues, dental pain, or an oral infection believed to be caused by stress.

1. Clenching Your Jaw

Whether you’re aware that you do it or it happens subconsciously, jaw clenching is a common oral condition brought on by stress. The jaw joint and chewing muscles can become sore and radiate pain as a result, often felt around the ear or face.

Though daytime clenching is annoying, you are conscious and thus have more control over curbing the habit. Clenching at night, on the other hand, is harder to stop unless you have a night guard in place. Our dentists can custom create a night guard for you to wear while sleeping so your upper and lower teeth do not meet.

2. Grinding Teeth

Also treated with a night guard, excessive teeth grinding, or bruxism, can wreak havoc on your teeth if not stopped. If extreme enough, grinding can cause loose, broken, or cracked teeth. Wearing a custom-fitted night guard when you go to bed will help prevent tooth damage and cushion aching joint muscles.

For severely damaged or missing teeth, our dentists will need to recommend restorative treatment options. Those can include dental crowns, dental implants, TMJ treatment, or tooth extractions. We want your smile to be at its healthiest so we will work with you to get you the care you need most.

3. Dry Mouth

You might not think about the saliva in your mouth much, but it plays a key role in your oral health. Saliva helps to remove leftover food from teeth, keep teeth moist, remineralize enamel, and fight off harmful bacteria.

When you’re stressed, the amount of saliva in your mouth can decrease resulting in a condition known as dry mouth. This reduced saliva production puts you at risk for more plaque buildup and the development of oral issues like tooth decay and gum disease.

In addition to reducing your stress levels outside of the dental office, our dentists can recommend prescription or over-the-counter mouth rinses, artificial saliva or moisturizers, and fluoride trays.

4. Gum Infection or Disease

Because stress can influence the performance of your immune system, it can be hard for your body to properly fight off infections. Of course, neglecting your oral hygiene can exacerbate the problem and make an infection in the gums even more likely.

If our dentists find that you have gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease, it is reversible. A professional teeth cleaning and consistent oral care at home will improve your condition and return your gums back to normal. Unfortunately, once your infection progresses into later stage periodontitis, it can no longer be reversed and only managed.

Avoid this fate by practicing stress management at home and brushing your teeth at least twice a day. Remember to also floss in between teeth at least once daily to remove food particles left behind after meals.

Talk to Our Dentists About Treatment

Our dentists in Grand Rapids, Grand Haven, Comstock Park, and Ionia, MI, want you to know that you’re not alone when it comes to stress. We’ve had countless patients come to us for help with teeth grinding, clenching, dry mouth, and gum disease. We can treat your condition too and work with you to relieve your stress. Call one of our MI Smiles Dental locations today or contact us online to schedule an appointment.