Stress is the reaction to an external stimulus. When the body recognizes a threat, it triggers the stress response through the release of hormones that prepare you to fight or run away. These hormones include adrenaline and cortisol. They increase heart rate, blood pressure, respiratory rate, perspiration, muscle tension, and focus.
In the modern world, we are constantly bombarded by stimuli that cause us to experience stress. Whether it’s deadlines at work, taking care of the kids while balancing a career, relationship issues, financial strain, or any of a hundred other stressful life events, our body reacts to them by releasing the same stress hormones as our ancient ancestors did when encountering a threat. Our bodies haven’t evolved enough to handle the stress of modern life, so these releases can have a negative impact on our oral health.
When we feel stressed, our body goes through a number of changes. We can have an increased heart rate or blood pressure, and our immune system works harder to combat germs and illnesses. One part of our body that is also affected by stress is our mouth. Our saliva production often slows down when we are nervous or worried, which can contribute to a dry mouth. A dry mouth can lead to bad breath, plaque buildup, and even tooth decay. Stress can also worsen symptoms of gum disease and cavities. If you are feeling particularly stressed out, try practicing relaxation techniques like meditation or yoga to help soothe your mind and body. We also suggest chewing sugar-free gum to keep your mouth producing adequate amounts of saliva.
The relationship between stress and your mental health is also complicated. Researchers have found that people who suffer from chronic depression are more likely to have poorer oral hygiene habits than those who aren’t depressed. This means that they are less likely to brush twice a day and floss once a day and more likely to skip out on seeing their dentist for routine cleanings and exams. This lack of dental care can lead to serious health consequences, including tooth decay and cavities.
If you’re feeling stressed, take steps to manage your symptoms. Get enough sleep each night and make time for activities that bring you joy. You can also talk to your family doctor about recommending a therapist who can help you manage stress in an effective way.
If it’s been a while since your last checkup and cleaning with us, now is a great time to get back in the dental chair! We look forward to helping you maintain healthy teeth and gums for life.
For the best dental care tailored to your needs, visit West Lake Dentistry at 298 N. Hwy 16 Suite E, Denver 28037, or call (704) 483-1870.