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Stress and Oral Health

Date: 3 April 2018 Category:

Stress and Oral Health

With April being Stress Awareness Month it is a good opportunity to take more notice of how stress effects our health, relationships and daily life.

According to the Mental Health Foundation, 12 million adults every year in the UK are seen by their GP about mental health problems – including stress. Stress might impact how much coffee we drink, the number of cigarettes we smoke and our productivity in the workplace. One area we might not think that stress affects us is our smiles.

When work, family, finances and general life gets on top of you, your teeth tend to take a back seat in your list of priorities. However, this might lead to oral health problems. We’d like to make you aware of some effects that stress has on the mouth and some tips on how to prevent them.

Stressful smiles

  • You might start grinding and clenching your teeth during the day or in your sleep – this can cause headaches, tenderness around the jaw area and wear on your teeth. Check out our blog post all about Bruxism for more information.
  • We tend to get drier mouths when we’re stressed – this reduction of saliva can cause bad breath and slow down the process of food being cleared from your teeth. Saliva helps to neutralise the enamel-eroding acids created by the bacteria feeding off of the food in your teeth.
  • If we’re running around busy with other things on our minds, we might neglect our oral hygiene and not think we have time to clean interdentally (between your teeth) or to brush for 2 minutes. Furthermore, stress might lead us to adopt some unhealthy habits – such as smoking, excessive alcohol consumption and eating foods with a high sugar content. These habits could increase your risk of gum disease which may lead to serious oral health problems if not treated.
  • It’s a well know fact that stress affects the frequency of getting cold sores, but also can increase the risk of ulcers also.

Tips to de-stress and frown less

  • Go and see your dentist if you’re suffering with any of the symptoms above, or make sure you go for your regular check-ups.
  • If going to see the dentist causes you more stress – then why not speak to your Centre for Dentistry team? We’re excellent with nervous patients. We’ve also partnered with Anxiety UK to produce a resource on Dental Anxiety – Guide to No More Dental Fear.
  • Regularly drinking water throughout the day and with meals should help to relieve the uncomfortable sensation of a dry mouth. Chewing on sugar-free gum also helps to stimulate saliva in the mouth.
  • Cut down smoking and reduce your alcohol intake.
  • Instead of snacking on high sugar foods, try healthy alternatives, such as nuts, hummus and carrots or cheese on toast. All of these lifestyle changes will help your oral health and, hopefully, your stress levels too.
  • Take some time each day for yourself to relax and do something you enjoy. This could be reading a book, calling up a friend, having a bath or going for a run. Doing something you enjoy can help you to de-stress and recharge your batteries ready for the next day.

If you have any concerns about the impact of your stress on your oral health, please speak to your dentist. Call our Patient Care Team on 0333 0162 230 for more information and to book an appointment or pop into your nearest CFD practice in Sainsbury’s for advice.

0333 0162 230 | pct@centrefordentistry.com