Stress can do a number on our bodies. It can impact our sleep, our moods, and how our bodies feel. Did you know that stress can also weaken your gum health? When stressed, it is crucial to care for your gums. Without good gum health, your overall oral health can decline rapidly. Knowing how stress can influence your gum health can help you seek the right solutions.
How Stress Affects Your Gums
Stress can manifest in many ways, from tension headaches to stomachaches. What’s lesser-known is the profound impact stress can have on your oral health, specifically your gums.
Weakened Immune System
When you’re under prolonged stress, your immune system can become compromised. This weakened defense makes it harder for your body to fight off gum infections, such as gingivitis or periodontitis. Additionally, stress and a compromised immune system can make it harder for you to heal from illness or dental procedures.
Reduced Saliva Flow
Stress can lead to reduced saliva production, which can dry out your mouth. A dry mouth is more susceptible to bacterial growth and gum disease. This is because saliva is a natural way to flush out harmful bacteria. Because bacteria thrive in a dry environment, saliva helps protect your oral health.
Bruxism and Jaw Clenching
Stress can lead to habits like bruxism (teeth grinding) and jaw clenching. When you are stressed, it is natural for you to clench your teeth. This can be due to anxiety, fear, or anger. Clenching your jaw is a coping mechanism. Over time, this can cause gum recession and damage to the tissues surrounding your teeth.
Recognizing Stress-Related Gum Issues
In the midst of stress, it is crucial to recognize the signs of gum distress.
Gingivitis is an early stage of gum disease marked by redness, swelling, and bleeding gums. Stress can worsen these symptoms and make gingivitis more challenging to manage.
Untreated gingivitis can progress to periodontitis, a more severe form of gum disease. Stress-related factors can make it harder to control and may result in the loss of gum and bone tissue.
Your Dentist as a Stress-Busting Ally
During periods of stress, it is crucial to lean on your dentist for oral help. They can help prevent many issues that might occur.
Regular Dental Check-Ups
Your dentist plays a crucial role in detecting early signs of gum disease and stress-related oral issues. Regular dental check-ups help catch problems before they worsen. For example, your dentist will be able to identify the beginning stages of enamel erosion. This occurs when you grind your teeth.
Mouthguards for Bruxism
If you’re clenching your teeth or grinding them due to stress, your dentist can create a custom mouthguard to protect your teeth and gums from damage. The soft material provides a cushion between the teeth.
Gum Disease Treatment
If you’re already dealing with gum disease, your dentist can offer effective treatments, including deep cleanings, medications, and, in severe cases, surgery to restore your gum health.