Stress Related Dental Problems

How general anxiety levels can have a detrimental effect on your oral health.

Few would dispute that we live in a stressful era. Even once we have finished a busy day at work, instead of relaxing in the evening, many of us will log onto social media and enter into debate of one form or another. Even if we find that in itself to be relaxing, there is always the possibility of a work email arriving that simply can’t be ignored.

Add to this other factors that can cause stress such as work, relationships and finances, and it is perhaps not surprising that stress levels seem to be at an all time high. Whilst high stress levels are known to have a negative effect on our overall well being, few people may even stop to think about the effect it can have on our teeth and gums.

Comfort eating

People deal with stress in different ways. Whilst some may turn to relaxation exercises, others may turn to drink. One common way that many of us use to relieve stress though is to ‘comfort eat’. In general, people are more likely to turn to high sugar foods rather than savoury ones, with chocolate being an obvious popular choice. Our Wickford based dentists probably do not need to remind patients of the dangers to our teeth caused by sugar!

Teeth grinding

Heightened levels of anxiety may cause some people to grind their teeth, often without realising it. Bruxism, or teeth grinding, usually occurs whilst we sleep and have little or no control over it. Depending on the severity and length of time that this happens, teeth can be worn down, or, in extreme circumstances, even break altogether. Regular monitoring of your teeth during periods of high stress is advisable.

Periodontal disease

Some studies have shown a link between gum disease and high anxiety levels. This could be down to the way that our body processes stress, but is perhaps more likely due to less care being taken during stressful times. When relaxed, we may well take a few extra minutes each day to brush and floss our teeth well. Depending on the cause of stress though, we may rush out to work some mornings forgetting to clean our teeth, perhaps grabbing unhealthy snacks due to lack of time. All these factors can contribute to higher bacterial levels in the mouth which can contribute to gum disease.

Dental anxiety

Finally, even where a person is generally not stressed, dental anxiety can cause people to have poor oral health. Ironically, in some instances, this can come from attempting to take extra care of their teeth in order to avoid treatment. Over brushing of the teeth can cause damage to the enamel and is entirely unnecessary; a gentle circular brushing is all that is needed. Our friendly Wickford dentists will always do their best to help you to relax during your visits to the Cygnet Dental Practice and, however nervous you may feel about a routine dental visit, it is far better to face your anxiety than allow your teeth to deteriorate to a point where more significant, invasive treatment is needed.

Whether stressful or not, dental visits are important. If you have not visited your local dentist for some time, patients from Wickford, Rayleigh and across Essex are invited to call us on 01268 733078 to make an appointment. Our team is highly experienced and we will do our utmost to help put you at ease.