Stress is the body's reaction to any change that requires an adjustment or response. When you feel stressed, your body responds by releasing hormones and other substances that prepare you for "fight or flight." This stress response triggers changes in your heart rate and blood pressure and increases your blood flow to your muscles and brain. Although this response can help you react quickly in a crisis, it can also have negative effects on your oral health. For example, increased heart rate and blood pressure can increase the risk of tooth decay or gum disease. Additionally, you may have trouble sleeping due to rapidly changing hormone levels. This can affect your blood sugar levels and increase your risk of diabetes. Taking steps to avoid feeling stressed can help reduce the impact of stress on your oral health. For example, learning to deal with stressful situations in a healthy way may reduce their impact on your health. Another way you can reduce stress is with exercise. Physical activity helps decrease stress hormones in your body. Whatever method you choose, reducing stress can help protect your smile.
Going to the dentist's office can cause anxiety in some patients, especially patients who haven't been to the dentist in a while or patients who suffer from dental phobias. Fortunately, there are several ways a dentist can help alleviate a patient's anxiety and make their visit more pleasant.
One way dentists reduce anxiety is by offering multiple sedation options, including oral consciousness, nitrous oxide, IV sedation, and general anesthesia. Patients can also take a pill called Ativan before an appointment if they experience extreme anxiety. Dentists are trained to administer these medications when necessary. Some offices may even offer massage chairs and TVs in the waiting room to help patients feel more at ease.
Another way stress affects oral health is when a person grinds or clenches their teeth while sleeping. This puts significant pressure on the teeth and jaw and causes teeth to become worn down over time. It can also cause pain in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), which can lead to headaches and pain when chewing. People who grind their teeth may find it helpful to use a night guard, which is a mouthguard that is worn at night to prevent clenching or grinding of the teeth. A night guard can help reduce tooth damage and prevent other health problems related to gum disease, TMJ disorders, and sleep apnea.
Stress can have a number of effects on your oral health, including changes to your diet and how often you brush or floss your teeth. Here are some tips on how to manage stress, so your teeth and gums stay healthy.
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