As much as we try to cultivate a cool, calm, and relaxed vibe here in our part of the country, stress still manages to creep into the San Diego resident before a big meeting at work or when you’re stuck in downtown traffic.
Unfortunately, stress takes a big toll on public health. It accounts for 60% to 80% of visits to primary care doctors — and what does that mean for your smile? Your dentist in San Diego knows stress has a significant impact on otherwise healthy teeth. It may cause you to grind your teeth or clench your jaw, develop bad habits, or forget about the important steps that keep your oral health strong.
In this week’s blog post, let’s look at stress-related oral health issues… and how to stop them!
Jaw Clenching and Teeth Grinding
Most people who are stressed will clench their jaws or grind their teeth without even realizing it. Your teeth can withstand a moderate amount of occasional teeth grinding, but when it turns into a chronic problem, you are likely to experience a host of issues.
Jaw clenching/teeth grinding leads to…
- Weak and worn teeth
- A higher risk of tooth decay
- Tooth sensitivity
- Jaw pain
Nail Biting, Pen Chewing, Gum Popping
You’re in a meeting and feeling anxious about what’s coming up next — or maybe you’re in class and you’re just not sure you understand what you’re supposed to be learning. If you’re like many people, you’ll chew on your pen or slyly bite on a nail in response to stress. Unfortunately, these seemingly harmless habits put pressure on your delicate tooth enamel. Your teeth may chip or break as a result, or you could get something painfully lodged between your teeth.
Neglecting Oral Hygiene
It’s easy to forget about the basics when you’ve got a million and one things on your mind. But if stress or exhaustion causes you to neglect to brush or floss your teeth as often as you should, you’re facing a much higher risk of developing cavities, gum disease, or malfunctioning dental work. Unfortunately, that can mean a problem goes unnoticed for months or even years — until you unexpectedly wake up with a painful, throbbing tooth.
How to Curb Stress for a Healthier Smile
If any of this sounds all too familiar, don’t worry — it’s not too late to start managing your stress for better oral (and overall) health.
A new study out from Harvard Medical School says yoga can help to slow the harmful effects of stress and inflammation. Adopting vigorous exercise, talking to a therapist, or removing stressful stimuli can all help, too.
And as for your oral health, don’t forget to schedule two checkups and cleanings per year! Doing so can help your dental team catch problems like cavities, gum disease, and the negative effects of stress on your teeth — so you can manage it before it’s too late.
About the Author
Dr. Kory Grahl is a San Diego native and he graduated in the top 5 of his class at the University of Nevada Las Vegas School of Dental Medicine. Alongside Dr. Friedman, Dr. Grahl is a trusted source of comprehensive dentistry for the San Diego area. To learn more about the services at Mod Squad Dental or to schedule an appointment, you are invited to contact the office at 858-682-2394.