We are in the middle of a pandemic and a global economic meltdown — the last few months have been challenging in every way. Life, as we knew it, has changed, impelling us all to deal with uncertainty and stress. COVID-19 has hit the parents hardest — most parents are living in a state of constant anxiety. A recent survey with 3000 participants revealed that 46% of parents were experiencing high-stress levels due to varying reasons, such as distance-learning requirements launched by the present-day scenario, concern regarding access to healthcare and amenities, fear of losing out on important milestones, such as graduation ceremonies, etc. In conclusion, the COVID-19 pandemic is wreaking havoc for our mental health, which in turn, will invariably also affect our physical health. Among other things, long-term stress is also harmful to our oral health. In this article, we discuss six oral conditions caused by stress and how to control them.
6 Oral Conditions Caused by Long-Term Stress
Temporomandibular Joints Disorder
Temporomandibular joints are located below the ear and play a pivotal role in facilitating the movement of the lower jaw. Stress often causes people to grind their teeth and clench jaws, which is one of the most common reasons for the TMJ disorder. Fortunately, this problem can be solved with a balanced diet and meditation. In some cases, anti-anxiety medications may be prescribed.
Gum disease is essentially an infection in the gums that manifests itself in the form of bad breath, bleeding gums, and loose teeth. Stress wears down our body’s ability to fight infections, which in turn, accentuates the gum disease. If in these times, your gums have been bleeding excessively or if your loose teeth have become painful, you must see a periodontist immediately.
Dry Mouth Syndrome
The dry mouth syndrome is a condition in which the mouth feels dry, hot, and burning. Though this condition is more common in women post-menopause, stress can also cause people to experience dry mouth syndrome. If stress is the trigger, treatment includes stress-counseling. Your dentist may even advise you to take anti-depressants.
For years, dentists believed that mouth ulcers were triggered by either a vitamin-B deficiency or mouth injuries. However, in recent years, several different studies have also connected mouth ulcers with stress. If all the stress you have been taking has led to a painful mouth ulcer attack, see your dentist. Most likely, they will prescribe a gel or cream that will help you get rid of the pain.
Grinding one’s teeth is a common oral health problem. However, it is a problem that can lead to severe repercussions. Continuously grinding one’s teeth not only damages the teeth but also causes headache and a sore jaw. Stress is one of the prime causative factors behind teeth grinding. If your teeth grinding has increased during this pandemic, make sure to set up an appointment with your doctor. They will either recommend counseling or if the problem is acute, create a tooth guard to be worn at night while sleeping.
Biting One’s Nails
When people are stressed, they often bite their nails, which compromises their oral health. Nail-biting does not only move your teeth, but it can also lead to serious oral infections. Nail-biting is one of the prime ways the bacteria and viruses present on our hands find their way into our gums and mouths. If the stress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has amplified your nail-biting tendencies, talk to your dentist or doctor, and ask them for help.
These are unprecedented times and thus, we must devote ourselves to being physically and mentally healthy. If your stress has increased during the last few months and has been negatively affecting your health, act immediately. Eat well, meditate, get enough sleep and if things don’t change for better, do not hesitate to see your dentist. If you are looking for a dentist, or feel like you are experiencing some of these stress-induced syptoms, HPS Advanced Dental Care would love to see you. Dr. Heather and Dr. Maltese are gladly accepting new patients.
We are located at 4741 24 Mile Rd. Shelby Township, MI 48316, and we can be reached at (248) 652-0024. We look forward to meeting you!