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How stress affects your oral health

This two-part article series discusses the impact a highly stressed lifestyle can have upon one’s oral health and hygiene. We also provide healthcare advice.

In our previous post, Ask the Dentist: Is Stress Affecting Your Oral Health? Part 1, we began discussing the various oral health-related maladies that a highly stressed lifestyle can cause patients to suffer from. We began by talking about mouth sores, both contagious (cold sores or fever blisters) and non-contagious (canker sores.) The dangers of teeth grinding (Bruxism) and jaw clenching, which can cause temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD), were also discussed. In this article, the second installment of the two-part series, your Colorado Springs & Pueblo Dentist investigates how stress can gravely affect and compromise your good oral health through the following:

  • Poor oral hygiene
  • A bad diet and eating habits
  • The increased risk of periodontal (gum) disease

• Poor Oral Hygiene Habits

When you’re stressed and lead an incredibly busy and hectic life, maintaining a rigorous home oral hygiene routine can take a back seat. Instead of brushing for the recommended two minutes, three times a day, you give your teeth a quick go-over before collapsing exhausted into bed. Stressed people also tend to skip flossing or even brushing altogether! What about those bi-annual visits with a dentist? Well they can quite easily be forgotten about. The overall result is that your oral health begins to suffer. If you had healthy teeth and gums before, you may develop gingivitis. If you had oral problems before, they could worsen and develop into periodontal (gum) disease. No matter how stressed and busy you are, you should allocate ten minutes of the day in total to take care of your teeth and gums. Nothing deters business like bad breath and a decayed smile!

• A Poor Diet and Eating Habits

A stressed and busy lifestyle also leads to the development of unhealthy eating habits. Instead of eating three square balanced meals a day, you’ll find junk foodyourself snacking on what you can, when you can, followed by gallons of coffee! Since potato chips, chocolates and sugary snacks come in convenient packaging at just about every tiny street store, they’re most frequently on the menu. You’ll find yourself eating a diet that is high in sugar and carbohydrates, which are also a bacterium’s favorite indulgences! This, unfortunately, increases your risk of cavities, tooth decay and bacterial infection. No matter how stressed and busy your lifestyle is, make time for a proper sit-down lunch. Give yourself 30 minutes to relax with a healthy and nourishing meal and nip off to the bathroom afterwards to brush your teeth or rinse with an anti-bacterial mouthwash. You’ll feel refreshed and refueled to face the rest of the working day.

• Periodontal (Gum) Disease

All of the habits discussed above and in the first installment of this two-part article series greatly increase your risk of developing an acute and chronic oral bacterial infection of the gums. Poor oral hygiene habits, an unhealthy diet, a lack of exercise, teeth grinding and habit such as smoking and drinking (which the stressed-out may see as ‘unwinding’), all increase the production of plaque in the mouth. In the long-term and left without the professional attention of dentists, you are looking at severe oral health risks.

A Final Note from your Dentist in Colorado Springs & Pueblo.

"No matter how busy and chaotic your life may be, take the time necessary to look after your teeth and gums. They’re the only ones you’ve got and a beautiful and healthy-looking smile is one of your most important personal and business assets!"

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