American’s are struggling with stress more than usual with the COVID-19 crisis disrupting normal life. Dealing with uncertainty is difficult. Many know stress can mess with both physical and mental health. But do you know exactly how it impacts your oral health? Dr. Suman Chibb, a dentist in Owings Mills, MD, lets you know some things to watch out for during this stressful time.
Grinding and Clenching Your Teeth
A common side effect of stress is the tendency to clench or grind your teeth, even if this isn’t a habit you typically have. It may happen when you’re sleeping, without you really noticing, but waking up with pain. You may do it during the day, subconsciously, and catch yourself doing it.
If this is a stress habit you’ve picked up, you’ll notice it by pain in your jaw, face, and ears. Headaches are typical as well, especially upon waking up if you’re a nighttime grinder. Grinding and clenching involve a lot of pressure. The tension of this can also spread down throughout your neck and shoulders.
One of the biggest problems that can come with grinding and clenching your teeth is the damage you can cause to your smile. This can be anything from a small, cosmetic tooth chip to a severe break or crack. This can expose your tooth to infection and cause pain due to your tooth pulp being out in the open. If you have a severe break, call us immediately. We’re still treating current patients with dental emergencies throughout the pandemic.
Decreased Immune Response
One of the biggest things to watch out for, particularly with a virus currently spreading, is a decreased immune response due to stress. For oral health, this means that you’re more likely to experience bacterial infections in the mouth and gum disease.
Bacterial infections of the mouth usually show themselves as ulcers or sores. Usually, they’re red or white in color and can cause pain. To help with these, rinse frequently with warm salt water to keep the area clean. If you have antiseptic oral gel, that can be placed on the sores as well. These gels often help with pain, too.
If you notice that your gums are bleeding or more tender than usual, this is a solid indicator of gum disease. The openings formed by bleeding gums are great places for the bacteria from gum disease to get into the bloodstream and spread throughout the body. Inflammation may be even worse, as your body is constantly fighting the inflammation, leaving you susceptible to other viruses and infections.
Your Dentist in Owings Mills, Maryland
We’ll be here to help with the impacts of stress on your smile after the pandemic is over. Call us or schedule an appointment online for the future. And, of course, if you have a dental emergency during the crisis, call us immediately! We hope to see you soon!