The Effects of Stress on Oral Health

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BY DR MATTHEW WEEKES

Stress is detrimental to the entire body. It results in physical and mental dysfunction. The ripple effect is felt throughout societies globally. Stress is like the wind. We don’t see it and sometimes we are not aware it is there.

The level of stress in today’s modern world appears to be increasing at an alarming rate with no end in sight. From the time you get up in the morning there is stress. It could be rushing to get the kids ready for school, trying to get to work on time for a special appointment or arriving on time for a school exam and getting stuck in traffic, just to name a few of the many common experiences.

There is a significant relationship between stress and oral health. In addition to the harmful effects of intense, uncontrolled stress, such as a high level of anxiety, emotional problems, high blood pressure and a large variety of other ailments that results in the intervention of a physician, your dentist is often the healthcare practitioner that becomes aware of the warning signs. He or she may see the “smoke before the fire”.

Overstressed individuals may grind their teeth while they sleep and not be aware of it. This is called bruxism. The uncontrolled movement of the jaws during sleep can severely damage teeth. It can cause headaches, earaches, spasms of the facial muscles, toothaches.

Many patients are stressed due to a lack of sleep. Adequate sleep is very important for maintaining excellent health. This cannot be overemphasised. Longevity depends on it. The repair and growth of cells are most active during sleep. If there is lack of sleep due to frequent arousals, find out why?  The most likely cause is snoring and obstructive sleep apnea.

During times of stress people tend to smoke, drink heavily, neglect their oral hygiene, eat foods high in sugar, drink a lot of unaltered coffee. These compound the problem.

These are some of the reasons to find out if your oral problems are affecting your general health. We will be happy to address your concerns.

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