Many Americans today are suffering from high levels of stress. According to a survey by the American Psychological Association, 44 percent of respondents said their stress levels have risen over the past five years.

When the levels of stress in the body are too high, it can result in a host of psychological problems, such as irritability, anxiety, and depression. On top of that, it can affect an individual’s dental health. Some of the most common stress-related oral problems are:

Gum Disease

Experts at say that gum disease or periodontitis is characterized by gums that are swollen, puffy, red (or purple), and bleeding when brushed. Stress, in some instances, may deter people from taking care of their teeth. This neglect could lead to gum disease over time.

Severe Teeth Grinding

Stressed individuals tend to grind their teeth, which is also known as bruxism. This habit can alter the alignment of the jaw and severely damage the teeth. Too much grinding can cause teeth to become extremely sensitive, loose, cracked, or chipped.

Dry Mouth

This condition is a common side effect of stress. It’s exacerbated by the common occurrence of not drinking enough water or fluids while trying to meet daily deadlines. Failure to stay hydrated hinders the production of saliva, a substance that helps protect the mouth from harmful bacteria, keeps bad breath at bay and dislodges food particles stuck between the teeth.

Canker Sores

These mouth ulcers develop due to the lack of Vitamin B in the body and extreme levels of stress.  They can manifest on the corners of the mouth, the inside of cheeks and lips, and on the gums. While these sores usually last one to two weeks, they can make eating and speaking difficult.

Burning Mouth Syndrome

This condition is a burning, hot, and dry feeling in the mouth. Stress can cause this problem. On top of that, stress-related vices, such as drinking, can make burning mouth worse.

Managing Your Stress Levels

While you cannot avoid stress altogether, you can keep it under control.  Some of the steps you can take are the following:

Avoid Nicotine, Alcohol, and Caffeine

Nicotine and caffeine are stimulants, which increase your level of stress rather than decrease it. Alcohol, on the other hand, acts as a depressant when consumed in large quantities.  However, it acts as a stimulant when taken in smaller amounts. Using alcohol to relieve stress, therefore, is not effective.

Instead of consuming alcohol and caffeinated drinks, keep yourself hydrated and cope with stress better by drinking water.  Refrain from smoking or chewing nicotine products as much as possible. It can worsen your oral symptoms and stain your mouth. If your goals are to whiten your teeth and regulate stress, staying away from nicotine is the way to go.

Reduce Your Intake of Refined Sugars

This type of sugar may lead to your feeling of irritability and fatigue. On top of that, it can rot your teeth. As much as possible, minimize your consumption of refined sugars and follow a nutritious, well-balanced, and healthy diet.

Wear a Night Guard If You Grind Your Teeth Frequently

If you suffer from bruxism, tell your dentist about it and inquire about getting a custom-fitted night guard. This oral appliance creates a cushion to eliminate stress on your aching joint tissues and muscles.

Stress is a natural and inevitable aspect of life. Learning how to cope with it, therefore, can minimize the risk of developing detrimental oral health issues.

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