You’ve probably heard that stress is bad for your health, and at Chapel Street Dental, we want you to know that your oral health is no exception. Although we can treat tooth damage, patients need to understand the effects of stress so they can take preventive action.
Stress harms the mouth through inflammation and by triggering destructive behaviors. People who are under prolonged stress have weaker immune systems. Less able to fight off bacterial infection, they are at risk for gingivitis, which causes the gums to bleed. Periodontal disease, the more advanced form of gingivitis, causes erosion to tooth roots and their supporting bone structure.
Besides the hormonal effect, stress is also responsible for harmful attempts at self-soothing, such as jaw clenching and nighttime teeth grinding (called bruxism). The increased pressure on the teeth can cause them to crack, and in the worst cases, they can even break. It can also cause them to migrate. While psychological counseling may be necessary to deal with the root cause of bruxism or inflammation, we can still provide our patients with some protection. Night guards prevent the jaw from moving while the wearer is asleep, and we provide periodontal therapy to combat gingivitis.