EAT. SLEEP. STRESS. REPEAT.
This has become our daily mantra.In today’s hectic, complex world—stress is a common concern for most of us. With unexpected things happening all around you, coping with stress may be difficult and can start to take a toll on your body. Typically, stressors can be categorized into one of four types: major life events (such as a death in the family), ambient strains (such as a concern for safety in the neighbourhood you live in), role strains (such as stress related to workplace hierarchy), and quotidian nature strains (stresses that result from activities of a repeated nature, such as a daily commute to work)
Ironically, many of us don't even realize how stressed we are or how it affects our body. Chronic stress is likely to contribute to the progressive, long-term development of oral disease through at least 2 pathways. First, stress can motivate individuals to cope in unhealthy ways such as substance use, including illicit drugs, alcohol and tobacco, poor diet, and sedentary behavior. Secondly, chronic stress contributes to dysfunction of physiological systems and thus increase your underlying disease progression.
Often mouth is considered as a mirror of the body. often many diseases first present in the mouth. hence, it is important to take note of one or more of the symptoms, as given below:
- Mouth sores, examples include canker sores or cold sores—one of the main causes for mouth sores is emotional stress.
- Teeth grinding and/or temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD)—stress can cause constant worrying and thinking, which can affect your body when it’s asleep and cause you to grind your teeth. If you find yourself stressed before you go to sleep or having headaches when you wake up, you may be grinding your teeth at night.
- Constant clenching of the teeth—stress can cause you to clench your teeth in the middle of a thought or action without you even realizing it, which can have an effect on your teeth. Poor oral hygiene—if you’re feeling stressed and have too much to do, you may find yourself not having the time to brush your teeth or floss regularly.
- Poor diet/nutrition—having a poor diet as a result of stress can cause a lack in the vitamins and nutrients that you need to be healthy.Gum disease or worsening of existing gum disease—stress can affect your immune system and can cause damage to your gums.
- Dry mouth—stress is one of the main reasons you could have a dry mouth. You may find yourself having a dry mouth before a stressful appointment or presentation for example. This causes a lack of saliva in your mouth and saliva has many oral health benefits, including washing away food particles from your teeth and gums.
- Burning sensation- often stress can lead to oral lesions such as burning mouth syndrome,oral lichen planus. these lesions cause vague burning/discomfort in the mouth, most often presented with difficulty in eating spicy foods/hot food.
Everyone experiences stress but your overall health and oral health can be affected if stress is extreme or consistent. If you’re feeling stressed, speak to a medical professional for assistance. They will be able to point you towards active, practical strategies to overcome or manage the challenges you face. Similarly, your dentist knows how stress affects your oral health and seeing your dentist or oral hygienist regularly will be able to help you identify, manage and enhance your oral routine during stressful periods.