Stress Awareness Month: How Worrying Can Impact Your Smile

We’ve all experienced stress at one point or another in our lives. Whether it concerns a specific presentation at work, finances, or something else, stress can take its toll on the body in a variety of ways. April is Stress Awareness Month and it’s important to know how stress is impacting not just your overall health, but your oral health as well.

We are all familiar with the common physical symptoms of stress including headaches, stomach aches, and anxiety, but do you know how stress affects your oral health? Here are some stress-induced oral symptoms:

Teeth grinding: This is also known as bruxism. You might notice yourself grinding your teeth during periods of high concentration or while you sleep at night. This wears down the enamel of your teeth, leading to cracks and other dental issues. It can also cause headaches and soreness in the jaw.

Jaw problems: Issues with the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) can present itself with pain around the ears or face. This pain can increase and worsen during times of stress.

Poor oral hygiene: Life gets in the way and you’re too busy to maintain your regular dental visits. Repeatedly doing so accompanied by a lack of proper daily brushing and flossing can lead to gum disease, plaque and tartar buildup, and even tooth decay.

Sores: Mouth ulcers, canker sores, and cold sores often show up in times of stress. These typically vanish on their own accord, but can be a nuisance to deal with.

Stress does not only affect adults, but children as well. External factors such as school and friendships impact a child just as internal factors like expectations and personal anxieties can take a negative toll. It’s important to recognize these triggers and symptoms in children as it can negatively impact their social behavior and oral health. Children may opt for unhealthy, sugary food options or even revert to negative coping habits such as thumb-sucking or teeth grinding at this time. Acknowledging these signs and taking proactive measures can save your child from forming additional negative oral health habits and patterns in the future.

Furthermore, a crooked or misaligned smile can cause stress in itself. Investing in orthodontic treatment can gift you the confidence you deserve and may alleviate some personal stressors. Being self-confident about your smile is one less thing you have to worry about!

We’ll always have to deal with stress, but learning healthy ways to handle it is beneficial. It can negatively impact multiple facets of your health, including the state of your oral health. By understanding the signs and symptoms now, you can protect your whole body and smile from stress.