Can Stress Cause Oral Health Problems?

man grinding his teehAs we all know, recently everyone’s life has quickly changed, and we’re all experiencing a temporary new normal. But with change and uncertainty also comes quite a bit of stress. Your dentist in Sacramento understands, and we’re with you. While we’re sure that trying your best to avoid getting stressed out is probably high on your priority list, taking care of your oral health may not be. That’s where we come in. Because, in fact, minimizing stress can also help protect your mouth.  

Clenching & Grinding

When we’re dealing with periods of high stress, many people resort to constantly clenching or grinding their teeth. While this is often done subconsciously, it can cause some serious side effects and concerns that we are well aware of. Habitually clenching and grinding over time can cause teeth to wear down and can even result in tooth damage. The constant force placed on teeth during clenching and grinding can weaken the enamel and cause chips, cracks, or fractures to occur. Additionally, stress grinding or clenching puts a lot of pressure on the jaw. This can cause severe jaw pain and even lead to TMJ disorder. TMJ disorder can be serious and lead to long-term pain and problems. Try your best to become aware of any jaw pain you have and work to notice when you may be clenching or grinding your teeth. Also, if you’re experiencing any jaw popping, clicking, or locking, we recommend contacting your dentist in Sacramento.* 

Gum Disease

Gum disease is most commonly a result of poor dental hygiene, smoking, or not keeping up with regular dental appointments or cleanings. But those aren’t the only causes behind this serious oral health disease. Research shows a strong correlation between stress and gum disease. If not treated, gum disease can not only affect oral health and eventually lead to tooth loss, it can also affect overall health. Those with gum disease are at increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, respiratory disease, and certain cancers. Some of the common signs of gum disease include bad breath, bleeding while brushing or flossing, or swollen/tender gums. 

Lower Stress to Protect Yourself

Decreasing stress levels can help protect both your overall health as well as your oral health. There are many things you can try to lower your stress, including: 

  • Get Enough Sleep. Sleeping can be tough during times of high stress. But getting enough zzz’s can go a long way in lowering your stress levels. Listening to calming sounds at bedtime, avoiding blue light an hour before going to bed, and keeping a regular sleep schedule are all ways that may help you sleep better. 
  • Meditate. Mediation uses breathing techniques to lower the heart rate and make us feel more relaxed. There are a ton of free apps out there that can help teach you and guide you through meditation sessions. Set aside dedicated time each day to meditate and focus on deep breathing. 
  • Get Active. Hopping on a stationary bike, doing some yoga, or going for a walk will get your heart pumping and release endorphins — which are body-made chemicals that help us feel happier and less stressed.  

Keep in mind, stress and stress reduction techniques vary from person to person. Try to find the best de-stressor that works for you. 

Your dentist in Sacramento hopes that you find a stress-reduction technique that works for you and that during this time you’re able to find peace and relaxation — for both your overall health and wellbeing and your oral health. 

*At the time of publishing, the ADA recommends that all preventive dental appointments and non-emergency consultations be postponed. Please check with your local regulations. 

What is a Dental Emergency?

woman with toothacheNobody wants to experience a dental emergency, and that may be more true now than ever before thanks to all of the confusion and uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 and dental care. Don’t worry, your dentist in Sacramento and the American Dental Association (ADA) are here to help clarify what constitutes a dental emergency and what doesn’t. 

From The ADA: Classifying Dental Emergencies

The ADA classifies dental emergencies as “potentially life-threatening and require immediate treatment to stop ongoing tissue bleeding, alleviate severe pain or infection.” But what exactly does that mean? Some examples of dental emergencies provided by ADA include: 

  • Uncontrolled bleeding
  • Cellulitis or soft tissue infection with swelling that potentially compromises a patient’s airway 
  • Trauma to facial bones that may obstruct an airway and make breathing difficult 
  • Tooth or jaw pain

Urgent Dental Care

The ADA also describes other dental problems that do not necessarily fit into the emergency definition above but still require immediate attention from your dentist in Sacramento. These problems are classified as urgent dental care needs and may include: 

  • Severe dental pain from pulpal inflammation
  • Third-molar pain
  • Tooth fractures with pain or soft tissue trauma
  • Post-surgery complications such as dry socket 
  • Abscess or bacterial infection with swelling
  • Knocked out tooth 
  • Lost, broken, or defective temporary restoration 
  • Cavities or decay that are causing pain

Please note, this list is not a complete list of all possible situations and symptoms. If you believe you have a dental emergency or urgent dental care need, contact your dentist to determine the next steps for your specific needs. 

What’s Not A Dental Emergency?

As of April 1, 2020, the ADA has recommended that all dental offices postpone all routine dental visits until at least April 30th. This means that there are several circumstances in which you should wait to schedule an appointment including: 

  • Routine checkups and cleanings
  • Consultations for procedures such as cosmetic dentistry
  • Follow-up appointment for treatments like tooth whitening
  • Cavities that do not cause pain
  • Extraction of teeth that are not causing pain

During these unprecedented times, please help us and your community stop the spread of COVID-19 by staying home and only seeing your dentist for emergency or urgent care. We hope you stay safe and healthy, and we can’t wait to see you soon. 

*Note: Recommendations for dentists and patients are changing regularly. Please check your local recommendations for the most up-to-date information about COVID-19 and dental care.