Did you know that April is Stress Awareness Month?
There’s no doubt that we’ve all experienced stress during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the Mental Health Foundation, 74% of UK adults have felt so stressed at some point over the last year they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope.
As April is just around the corner, we thought we’d draw attention to the ways that stress can affect your dental health, and share some ideas for stress-reduction.
Stress can lead to bruxism, better known as teeth grinding. It can often happen while you’re sleeping, so many people don’t know they do this. Common signs include a sore jaw when you wake up, or if your teeth suddenly feel more sensitive. If you think you might be grinding your teeth, talk to your dentist. They can look for signs of bruxism, and make a bespoke mouth guard for you to wear at night if need be.
When your body goes through stress, your immune system may be weakened, making it difficult to fight off bacteria. This means that the mouth can be more prone to gum disease. Make sure you brush your teeth for two minutes, twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and floss daily.
Being stressed can affect your breathing and can make you more likely to breathe through your mouth, creating dryness. Dry mouth is not only uncomfortable, but can increase your risk of cavities, so it’s important to drink water regularly, and to ask your dentist for advice. They’ll be able to recommend a good routine – including special mouthwashes and other solutions. Some medications and other health conditions can also cause dry mouth, so it’s important not to delay seeing your dentist if you experience this.
Research shows that stress is a big risk factor in the development of mouth ulcers. Brushing your teeth too aggressively, or bruxism, can also cause ulcers, so if you notice these painful sores inside your mouth then make an appointment to see your dentist.
Stress can cause many of us to binge-eat sugary foods or drinks in a bid to help ourselves feel better. Each time we snack on indulgent treats, our teeth are under attack from the sugar, increasing the likelihood of cavities. Try to cut down on sugar and opt for healthier choices instead. You’ll feel less sluggish and have more energy in no time.
How to reduce stress?
The Stress Awareness Month website features a wealth of information, including these tips:
- Talk about stress openly and freely with friends and family
- Eat a balanced diet
- Take time out of your day to relax and do something you enjoy
- Learn to say no to requests that are too much for you
The website also features a range of resources, guides and surveys, to help you check your stress levels and take action. Find out more here
If you’re concerned that stress is having an impact on your dental health, book a check-up with one of our dentists. It’s important to visit the dentist and hygienist every six months to help keep your mouth healthy.