We are all too familiar with stress, and how it can affect our energy levels, sleep patterns and mood. What you may not be aware of is how stress can also have an impact on your mouth. As dentists, we are seeing more and more cases of patients with stress-related oral health problems. If you are concerned about your oral health, please visit your dentist for a consultation.
Teeth grinding and clenching
Bruxism is the habit of grinding or clenching the teeth. People often do this at night-time or while concentrating on something. You may notice yourself waking up to a sore jaw, suffering from frequent headaches or a partner may hear you grinding at night. Over time bruxism can lead to extensive tooth wear, cracked teeth, jaw pain, sensitive teeth and headaches.
Treatment for teeth grinding and clenching involves jaw exercises, and creating a custom night guard (splint), which acts to protect your teeth, correctly reposition your jaw, and relax your jaw muscles.
Sores and ulcers
Stress can also affect the gums and soft tissues of the mouth. It is a common cause of mouth ulcers (aphthous ulcers) and cold sores (herpes labialis). Many of our patients find that they are prone to sores or ulcers during exam time or with deadlines at work. It is important to listen to your body and try to relieve stress even when you are busy. Remember to take breaks, eat well and get exercise.
Top tips for relieving stress
- Introduce an activity such as swimming, walking or yoga into your routine
- Get a good night’s sleep
- Limit your evening time spent on backlit screens (phones, tablets and computers)
- Limit your caffeine intake, and try not to have any tea/coffee after 6pm
- Try meditation or listening to relaxing music
- Indulge yourself with a massage, or simply take time out for a bath