Stress is an unavoidable part of life. In fact, many people feel that stress is more unavoidable than it used to be. This tension takes a toll on your body sooner or later. While many people are familiar with the sore muscles and strained vision that stress can bring, as well as more serious issues like stomach ulcers, some don’t realize that it can affect your mouth as well. Ask your Salinas general dentist, and they’ll tell you a host of effects on your teeth, caused by stress. The most common are dry mouth, grinding your teeth, and susceptibility to infection.
While dry mouth is unpleasant, it doesn’t actually sound like a major problem. So you have to drink a little more water; why is that so bad? The problem is that salivary glands exist to protect our teeth. For instance, saliva forms a protective layer over your teeth, discouraging the growth of plaque. However, when your mouth dries out, plaque flourishes, straining your teeth. Additionally, this is also a cause of a lot of morning breath and halitosis. Sleeping with your mouth open dries it out, causing germs to grow overnight. This results in a stale odor the next morning.
Stress can dry out your mouth all on its own, but many common medications for anxiety will do the trick as well. You can ask your Salinas general dentist what steps you can take to protect your teeth if you’re prescribed one of those medications. Stopping dry mouth can protect your teeth from a lot of potential cavities.
Grinding, clenching, and popping
Stress makes people tense up. This can result in grinding and clenching. The pressure building up in your jaw can also result in popping, which can irritate your jaw joints. These habits are very difficult to stop, as most people aren’t even aware that they are clenching their jaw. The best thing that you can do is regularly stretch your jaw during your waking hours. If you notice that you’re clenching your jaw, stop and take a few deep breaths.
However, many people clench their teeth or grind their teeth in their sleep. Your Salinas general dentist can look for signs of issues during your appointments. If the issue seems severe, they may prescribe a night guard or a bite plate to get you through the nights.
More prone to infection
Stress lowers your immune system. Your mouth is constantly full of germs. Usually, that isn’t a problem. If stress has lowered your immune system, however, you may find yourself getting canker sores. These painful mouth ulcers can be serious. If home remedies don’t work, you should see your Salinas general dentist as soon as possible. Some canker sores need help leaving.
You will also be more prone to other forms of infection when you’re under a lot of stress. For example, abscesses may occur, and you may be more prone to gum disease during this time. Regular checkups with your Salinas general dentist, Dr. Washburn, will help nip any infections in the bud.
Stress can’t always be avoided. Reach out to your Salinas family dentist to figure out how you’re going to meet the challenges you’re facing. Whether you’re worried about a canker sore or dry mouth, Dr. Washburn can help. Sometimes the solution is neck stretches, and sometimes a simple night guard can protect your teeth.