Is there a link between stress and oral health? At first glance, you might be tempted to answer "no". In fact, good oral health is associated with daily hygiene habits such as tooth brushing and a low-sugar diet. However, studies show that stress can have harmful effects on the dentition and oral cavity as a whole. Pressure at work, financial problems, disappointments in relationships... There are many anxiety-provoking factors. As well as causing nervousness, sleeping disorders and eating disorders, stress also affects our oral health.
Stress encourages bad habits
Stressful periods in our lives can affect our daily lives. We run out of time, and this translates into neglect at various levels:
- We forget to brush our teeth and clean the interdental spaces.
- Visit tobacco consumption and/or alcohol consumption.
- We eat poorly and unbalanced diets, leading to a lack of essential vitamins and minerals.
- Snacking becomes a daily habit.
- We forget to go to the dentist for scaling or regular check-ups.
These bad habits lead to a deterioration in oral health. Over time, you run the risk of developing cavities, abscesses, infections and more.
Stress and oral health: bruxism
Visit bruxism refers to the involuntary, repetitive clenching and/or grinding of the teeth. This can occur during the day or while sleeping. It's the most common side effect of stress on the health of our teeth. If you suffer from nocturnal bruxism, you usually wake up with a headache, earache or facial pain. Over the long term, this can even lead to tooth loss, as our teeth can loosen and shift due to heavy pressure. In more serious cases, chronic bruxism can lead to jaw dislocation, masticatory inflammation, or severe migraines.
Stress has another insidious effect: it weakens our immune system. As a result, our bodies are no longer as effective at fighting bacteria, and the risk of infection increases considerably. People under stress therefore seem more prone to gingivitis (gum infections) and periodontitis (periodontal infections). Ideally, you should see your dentist in Fribourg or Lausanne every 6 months. He or she will inspect your oral cavity and be able to diagnose and treat any infections in good time.
Saliva is the mouth's first line of defense against bacteria. It naturally cleans out food residues, keeps our breath fresh and aids digestion. However, stress contributes to dry mouth, or xerostomia as it is scientifically termed. What's more, certain medications prescribed to alleviate symptoms linked to stress or depression promote xerostomia. The dry mouth leads to an increased risk of tooth decay, gum disease and infection.
Stress and oral health: mouth ulcers
Research has also shown a link between psychological or emotional stress and the appearance of mouth ulcers. These superficial lesions develop on the soft tissues of the mouth or at the base of the gums. Most of the time, they cause pain and discomfort for about one to two weeks. Sometimes canker sores appear in more serious forms.
Stress and oral health: what can you do?
The most important thing to remember is that stress is an aggravating factor. It leads to a general neglect of oral hygiene, diet and lifestyle. At the same time, your immune system is considerably weakened. It's a scientifically proven fact that people under stress are much more likely to develop infections.
Managing stress involves adopting new habits on a daily basis:
- return to a stable sleep rhythm
- rest when you feel tired
- eating healthy, balanced products
- drink plenty of water
- practice a relaxation and breathing technique
- exercise, preferably outdoors
- turn off your phone on evenings and weekends, for example
- learn to manage your time and get better organized
- socialize with people who make you feel good
- recharge your batteries in the heart of nature
- give importance to your hobbies
- consult a psychologist to identify sources of stress and take a step back to find solutions.
If you have any concerns about the link between stress and oral health, talk to your dentist or dental hygienist. dental hygienist in Lausanne or Fribourg. A simple regular appointment can help you maintain your oral hygiene in times of stress.
The HELVIDENT team welcomes you to its dental clinics in Fribourg, Lausanne and Aigle. Contact us to arrange a consultation. We welcome patients of all ages, from children to senior citizens.