While stress is a normal part of life, excessive stress can lead to health problems and lifestyle behavioural changes. It can come from external sources, such as work, school, family and friends.
Stress is the body’s reaction to external forces or events that cause physical, emotional or mental tension. When an individual feels stressed, adrenaline and stress hormones are released. Stress can affect anyone, even children.
Chronic stress causes the muscles in the body to be in a more or less constant state of guardedness. When muscles are taut and tense for long periods of time, this may trigger other reactions of the body and even promote stress-related disorders.
How individuals react to stress depends to a large extent on their personality type. Studies have shown that even people with the most easy-going and adaptable personalities can suffer from stress if they lack a sense of control over aspects of their daily lives.
- Stress increases the amount of salivary cortisol and cavity-forming bacteria in the mouth. This situation will increase caries development.
- Dry mouth can result from conditions caused by stress and is also a common side effect of allopathic drugs used to treat depression.
- Stress also increases as well the formation of mouth ulcer and mouth sores.
- Stress can cause tooth-grinding and/or clenching of the jaw, leading to tooth damage. A common stress response is to grind the jaw during sleep. Often done unconsciously, this can be occurring during waking hours as well and if a clenching/grinding parafunctional habit is present, stress can make it much worse.
- Being under extreme stress may affect your mood and cause you to skip oral hygiene habits such as flossing and brushing. Poor hygiene is the principal key of development of decay and gum disease.
- If you already have gum disease, skipping daily hygiene may worsen the problem. Even if your mouth is in relatively good health, cutting corners on brushing and flossing can lead to gum disease or increase your risk of decays
- Stress can lead to depression, and depressed patients, according to research, have twice the risk of an unfavourable outcome from gum disease treatment compared to those who are not.
The most effective way to deal with stress is by correcting or modifying its underlying causes, however, this may be beyond the control of the individual.
Make sure you brush your teeth twice a day and floss daily. And do not forget to book your check-ups regularly, as stress may influence your mouth health!!!