How Anxiety Can Affect Your Mouth
It’s normal to feel stressed from time to time, but too much anxiety can have an impact on both your mental and physical health. In fact, anxiety and stress can even affect your mouth and dental health in many ways. At Prescott Dentistry, we often see patients with tooth pain and other mouth problems caused by stress and anxiety. If you suffer from stress and anxiety, here’s how it might affect your mouth.
Five Ways Anxiety Can Affect Your Mouth
1: Poor Oral Hygiene
Overwhelming stress makes you feel exhausted and too tired to keep up with your oral care routine. However, poor oral hygiene results in plaque buildup that eats away at your tooth enamel and irritates your gums.
Neglecting your oral hygiene leads to cavities, gum disease, abscesses, tooth loss, and other serious consequences. Remembering to brush twice a day and floss once daily will keep your teeth and gums healthy, giving you one less thing to stress about.
2: Dry Mouth
One of the many ways anxiety and stress can affect your mouth is by reducing saliva flow. Saliva is one of your mouth’s natural defenses against tooth decay and gum disease. It helps remove food particles and remineralize your enamel. When your mouth doesn’t produce enough saliva—a condition known as dry mouth—it puts your oral health at risk. Dry mouth is also a side effect of many of the medications used to treat anxiety and depression.
3: Gum Disease
Periodontal (gum) disease is a bacterial infection of the gums caused by plaque. Dry mouth and poor oral hygiene both expose your mouth to more bacteria, which significantly increases your risk of gum disease. Stress and anxiety can also weaken your immune system and make it more difficult for your body to fight infections, leaving your mouth even more vulnerable to gum disease.
4: Teeth Grinding or Clenching
When you’re stressed or anxious, you might unknowingly grind or clench your teeth at night or in tense situations. Teeth grinding (bruxism) wears down your tooth enamel and can cause decay, tooth pain, lost fillings, and cracked teeth. Frequently clenching or grinding your teeth can also cause temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, which cause jaw pain, headaches, and jaw stiffness.
Wearing a mouthguard at night can help prevent the damage caused by grinding and clenching your teeth while you sleep. And reducing your stress levels can help you stop grinding and clenching your teeth unconsciously during the day.
5: Canker Sores
Outbreaks of mouth ulcers known as canker sores have also been linked to stress. Canker sores develop inside the mouth, and appear as white spots that have a red border around them. They can cause a tingling sensation and/or mouth pain. Canker sores typically last up to three weeks, but can last much longer in severe cases.
How to Protect Your Teeth from the Effects of Anxiety
Follow these tips to keep your teeth and gums healthy when dealing with stress and anxiety:
- Manage stress with exercise, meditation, journaling, or other activities
- Brush your teeth twice a day and floss once daily
- Seek treatment for teeth grinding or clenching
- Visit your dentist at least twice a year for regular checkups
Treating Dental Problems in Prescott, Arizona
If stress and anxiety are affecting your teeth, it’s important to seek treatment as soon as possible. The experts at Prescott Dentistry can offer treatments to help restore your dental health. If you experience dental anxiety, we also offer a Complimentary Comfort Menu to help make your dental visit more comfortable. Call us at 928-445-1660 today to schedule an appointment.