Stress And Anxiety - The Impact On Your Oral Health

It isn’t just anxiety about your dental visits that can damage your teeth.

If you are nervous when the time comes for a dental appointment, and especially one where a treatment will be carried out, you will know the strength it can take to pluck up the courage to go. Most people do fall into this category and, however nervous they are, will attend the clinic for their appointment. Unfortunately, for a small minority, the level of fear and anxiety is very high and they may well cancel their appointment or simply not turn up at all.

Anyone who avoids dental appointments is almost certainly going to end up with problems in the future, and probably much more severe than if they had gone to the dentist in the first place. Taking a ‘head in the sand’ approach and not turning up at our dental clinic for a small filling may well result in a larger filling later on, possibly following severe toothache, or may even result in the patient losing the tooth.

We strongly recommend that if you are really anxious about any upcoming treatment that you talk to us. Our friendly Eltham dentists will do all that we can to help you receive any treatment as comfortably and stress free as possible.

With dental anxiety addressed, let us take a look at other ways that stress and anxiety can damage your teeth and your oral health in general.

Bruxism

One of the most direct ways that stress can damage your teeth is through grinding them together. Unfortunately, this problem, also known as bruxism, tends to happen when we are asleep. This makes it very difficult to control. In the long term, relieving stress is the best way to go as this will not only help to protect your teeth but is also better for your overall health. From a dental perspective, mouth guards can help to prevent the teeth from coming together as a shorter term solution.

Once the stress has reduced to normal, we can also restore teeth that have been damaged. Possible damage may include worn enamel but also chipped teeth or even breakages in more extreme situations. Whether we use veneers, crowns or replace a badly damaged tooth with dental implants, we can help you get your teeth back to normal.

Stress eating

One problem that we tend to see at AR Smiles with people who suffer from anxiety is gum disease. This might seem a strange connection but people who are stressed tend to ‘stress eat’. This usually means eating a lot of unhealthy food including a lot more sweets and sugary foods. This can cause tooth decay but also helps potentially harmful bacteria to thrive and gingivitis and periodontitis can soon occur. If you are aware that you are ‘stress eating’, make sure to brush and floss your teeth well and see the dental hygienist at our Eltham clinic to help maintain healthy gums.

Infections

It is widely accepted that stress and anxiety lower a person’s immunity and they are more likely to be infected with viruses such as colds. This is also true when it comes to infections in the mouth. A small scratch that would usually heal without us even really being aware of it may become infected and require further treatment.

Dry mouth

Gum disease is caused when the natural bacteria in our mouth multiply and become out of control. One way that this happens is when the mouth becomes dry. Bacteria thrive in a warm and dry environment and people suffering from stress are likely to suffer from this. As with stress eating, if you find that you have a dry mouth on a regular basis, try to drink more water to stay hydrated and see the hygienist for a professional clean as well.

What can you do about stress?

When it comes to dental anxiety, we recommend that you talk to us so that we can help you find a way of managing your stress so that you can receive any necessary treatment.

For general stress, this may mean dealing with the underlying issue that is causing it, whether this be your job, finances or a relationship. There are a number of things that you could also try which might help. This includes relaxation exercises, yoga and even a walk in the woods or other natural environment can be a big help too. Whatever you do though, don’t ignore stress; it can have a major negative impact on both your general and oral health.

If you think you have tooth damage caused by stress and would like to see how we can help, please make an appointment to see a dentist at AR Smiles by calling us on 020 8856 7759.

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Site last updated December 2023
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