With the COVID-19 pandemic spreading across America, stress levels are higher than ever. Stress can have an impact on your entire body. But what does it specifically do to your oral health? Dr. Heather Adams, an experienced dentist in Rogers, AR, discusses the various things you should watch out for in your mouth during this stressful time.
Teeth Grinding and Clenching
One of the most common responses to stress is clenching or grinding your teeth, even if you didn’t have this habit before extra stress hit. Teeth grinding commonly happens when you’re sleeping and you might not even notice. You may also catch yourself doing it subconsciously throughout the day when you didn’t even realize it.
The more you grind your teeth, the more pressure is put on them. This leads to pain throughout the jaw. It can spread to the face and ears, as well as cause more frequent headaches. The tension can be so much that it radiates down throughout your neck and shoulders.
Teeth grinding can also lead to more wear and tear on your teeth. You may notice small chunks of your teeth chipping off. Depending on the amount of pressure, you can also experience a severe crack or break. This can expose your tooth pulp and nerves, becoming extremely painful. A severe break would be considered emergency dentistry, and we’re still handling cases at this time. Call us immediately if this happens.
If you notice it throughout the day, do your best to consciously relax your jaw. This can help ease the pressure on your jaw and teeth. If you have the ability to get a nightguard, that’s ideal if you grind your teeth at night. If not, we can schedule an appointment for the future to get you fitted with a custom one that’ll help your symptoms.
Decreased Immune Response
One of the worst side effects of stress is a decreased immune response. But what does this mean for your oral health? A decreased immune response makes you more susceptible to gum disease. Usually, one of the first symptoms is bleeding gums, which you’ll notice by brushing or flossing.
With the openings made due to bleeding gums, it allows the bacteria from your infected gums get into the bloodstream. When it’s in the bloodstream, it can flow throughout your body, leading to problems in other areas that you may not have expected.
However, the worst impact of gum disease may be the inflammation that it causes. When something is inflamed, your body is constantly using resources to try to help with the inflammation. This leaves fewer resources for any other problems that may arise. You’re more susceptible than to other infections and viruses because of the resources trying to fight the inflammation in the gums.
Your Dentist in Rogers, Arkansas
Getting a checkup after the pandemic is important to ensure that stress hasn’t wreaked havoc on your smile. Call us or schedule a new patient appointment online for the future. We hope to see your smile in our office soon!