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What is stress doing to your teeth? (600 words, emailed)
Updated: 1/22/2013 10:11:24 AM

Have you been experiencing a lot of stress lately? Maybe the holiday season left you full of family anxiety or your job has been particularly difficult lately. If you've been feeling stressed out, chances are your dental health has been suffering as a result. While you're probably aware that stress can affect your blood pressure and cardiovascular health, some people are unaware of the powerful effect that anxiety has on your teeth. However, it's important to know the signs of stress-related dental issues, because there are many things that you can do to combat them.

WebMD explains that stress can do a number on your teeth and gums in more ways than one, and these issues can spread throughout the rest of your body.So, before you let stress get the better of you, take a moment to learn more about how anxiety harms your teeth and what can be done to relieve your stress.

Major stress, major dental problems
The first issue that may arise in your mouth when you're overly stressed are canker sores. These small ulcers inside the mouth have dentists scratching their heads, because they aren't entirely sure what causes them. However, most experts are confident that stress raises a person's risk for developing canker sores. This could be due to the fact that stress can weaken the immune system, making your mouth less able to fight off unwanted organisms that irritate the mouth. If you've ever had canker sores, you know that they are painful and can make chewing and speaking uncomfortable. If you find that you have these pesky sores, the American Dental Association states that there are many over-the-counter topical solutions you can purchase to temporarily ease them. They should be gone within a couple of weeks, and if not, you should visit your dentist for more help. Also, stay away from spicy or hot foods when you have a canker sore, since these treats may irritate them.

Another common problem that you may run into if you're experiencing a lot of stress is teeth grinding. When you're anxious, you may subconsciously grind your teeth during the day, and especially at night. When you grind your teeth, you're putting a great deal of pressure on your temporomandibular joint, which is the joint located where the skull and lower jaw meet. If you damage this joint, you can experience headaches and a dull pain while chewing. Grinding may also change the shape of teeth or cause them to crack. If you're grinding your teeth, visit a dentist, who can create a custom-made mouth guard for you to wear at night to stop the damage.

Also, stress may cause you to eat more junk foods that are packed with fat and sugar, which will also damage your dental health. Be sure to snack on healthy fruits and vegetables when you feel stressed rather than whatever else is nearby.

Handle stress better
The important thing to take away here is that if you're feeling stressed, you should do something about it. The American Heart Association recommends adopting a better attitude to deal with stress. For example, rather than saying "I can't do it," think "I will do my best." Also, try to do at least one thing a day that you enjoy, even if you only have 15 minutes to do it. Take a short walk around the block, listen to calming music or read a few chapters of a good book to put your mind at ease.

© 2013 Brafton Inc.


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