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Stressed Person

How Does Stress Affect Our Oral Health?

77 percent of Americans regularly experience the physical symptoms of stress. Meanwhile, 73 percent regularly experience the psychological signs of stress.

As for those who feel that they are living under extreme stress, they rank at 33 percent. And 48 percent of folks think their stress level has gotten higher in the past five years.

Not surprisingly, job pressure, money, health, relationships, poor nutrition, media overload, and sleep deprivation were identified as the top causes of stress in the US. In fact, 76 percent cite money and work as the leading cause(s) of their stress.

What is Stress?

Stress is defined as a response to pressure or threat – real or perceived — which then affects everyone in all walks of life everywhere.

When we are stressed, our body experiences a chemical reaction that lets us act in a way to prevent injury. Known as the “fight-or-flight” or stress response, this reaction helps protect us by:

  • increasing our heart rate
  • quickening our breathing
  • tightening our muscles
  • raising our blood pressure

What causes stress?

The United States stress statistics show 77 percent of Americans regularly experience the physical symptoms caused by stress. Meanwhile,73 percent regularly experience the psychological signs of stress.

Those who feel that they are living under extreme stress are at 33 percent. Moreover, those who think their stress level increased in the past five years are at 48 percent.

The top causes of stress include:

  • job pressure
  • money
  • health
  • relationships
  • poor nutrition
  • media overload
  • sleep deprivation

Among these causes, 76 percent of Americans cite money and work as the leading cause of their stress.

What are the symptoms of stress?

Symptoms of stress can be ambiguous but affect all aspects of our lives.

Emotional indications of stress include

  • agitation
  • frustration
  • mood swings
  • losing control or feeling the need to take control
  • difficulty relaxing and calming the mind
  • low self-esteem
  • loneliness
  • worthlessness
  • depression
  • avoiding social contact.

On the other hand, physical symptoms include:

  • low energy level
  • headaches
  • upset stomach
  • tensed muscles
  • chest pain
  • rapid heartbeat
  • insomnia
  • loss of sexual desire and ability
  • frequent colds
  • dry mouth
  • clenched jaw
  • grinding of teeth
  • nervousness
  • shaking
  • ringing in the ear
  • cold or sweaty hands and feet

Meanwhile, behavioral signs of stress include:

  • a change in appetite
  • procrastination
  • increased alcohol, drugs, and cigarette use
  • neurotic behaviors like nail biting

Lastly, cognitive symptoms of stress include:

  • racing thoughts
  • poor judgment
  • inability to focus
  • pessimism
  • forgetfulness
  • constant worrying.

How does stress affect our oral health?

Stress, especially ongoing and chronic, must not be taken for granted. In fact, it can cause serious health consequences like mental health problems, cardiovascular disease, eating disorders, sexual dysfunction, skin and hair problems, gastrointestinal disorders, and menstrual issues.

  • mental health problems
  • cardiovascular disease
  • eating disorders
  • sexual dysfunction
  • skin and hair problems
  • gastrointestinal problems
  • menstrual problems.

Also, stress and its consequences can extend to oral health. For instance, the tightening of the jaw muscles and clenching of teeth when you are stressed can cause temporomandibular disorders, wear out enamel, and teeth sensitivity.

Additionally, canker and cold sores may appear as stress can lower the immune system, causing the breakout of these sores. Dry mouth makes the mouth susceptible to tooth decay, oral infections, and gum disease because of the decrease in saliva production which is essential in fighting off the naturally-occurring mouth bacteria.

Stress also increases the risk of developing periodontal diseases because of the weaker immune system. In turn, this has an effect on both your oral and general health. Because bacteria is much harder to fight off with a weakened immune system, gum disease is much more likely to occur.

The stronger and longer the negative emotion sticks around, the worse your immunity. And as everyone knows, your immune system plays a vital role throughout your entire body, including your mouth.

Keeping your emotional well being at a healthy level will increase your immune system, helping to fight off health-related problems in general.

High stress, anxiety, extreme sadness, can also cause negative emotions to worsen. Negative emotions can cause our body’s nutrients to deplete quicker than usual. Without the proper vitamins and minerals, the strength of our teeth may suffer. Additionally, negative emotions like anger and depression may cause some folks to either eat less or turn to junk foods during the duration of their emotion.

Apart from nutrition, negative emotions can cause us to gravitate away from our self-care routine. Negative emotions may also impact exactly how we engage in oral care. For instance, someone with anger might brush their teeth harder and faster than normal. When you think about it, it does make sense. When you’re not happy, it’s no surprise your general hygiene suffers too.

Fortunately, negative emotions are temporary. However, problems regarding your oral and general health may not be so temporary. So, upkeeping hygiene and getting help for long-term emotional problems if necessary is critical.

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