April is Stress Awareness Month and a good time to focus on health issues related to stress and tension. Stress can cause a host of physical and mental health problems. It can even cause oral health issues.

Stress Affects Oral Health

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Consider the following oral health problems related to stress:

  • Teeth grinding – The technical term for teeth grinding and jaw clenching is bruxism. Bruxism is a natural response of many people to frustration and stress. It usually occurs during sleep, however, so many people are unaware of it. The symptoms of bruxism include a sore jaw and flattened tips of the teeth.
  • Exacerbation of TMD –Stress may worsen symptoms of temporomandibular joint disorder. TMD adversely affects the jaw joint and other muscles that are involved in the movement of the jaw and neck. TMD may result in jaw clenching, joint pain, popping and clicking of the jaw, and headaches.
  • Weakening of the immune system – Stress often leads to dry mouth, which puts people at a higher risk of developing cavities in their teeth. Stress can also wear down the immune system, triggering canker sores and even gum disease.

When you are dealing with a lot of pressures, pay special attention to your oral health care. Maintaining your dental care routines will help in preventing oral problems—even in the presence of stress-related health issues.

Many people do not see the effects of stress on their bodies until problems begin to occur. For that reason, it’s critical to keep up with your regular dental visits. It is also important that people learn how to deal with the inevitable stress that life brings. Handling stress in a positive way will improve your outlook as well as many aspects of physical health.