Ask a Dentist

April 16, 2021

Q: Can Stress Impact My Dental Health?

While Winnipeg is colloquially known as “Winterpeg” we know that the cold months don’t help with any stress you’re feeling. And even though it’s starting to warm up that doesn’t mean the stress is going anywhere. According to Statistics Canada, stress is on the rise, with 73% of all working adults reporting at least some level of stress. So, we want to highlight the importance of looking after your mental health this National Stress Awareness Month. 

Stress comes in many shapes and forms, and can be caused by many different factors that can be internal or external. Internal factors include your daily nutrition, fitness level, sleep habits and overall health, while external factors include your home and work environment, social interactions and life experiences. 

According to Mayo Clinic, when your body undergoes stress, you have high risks of getting these health concerns:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Digestive problems
  • Headaches
  • Heart disease
  • Sleep problems
  • Weight gain
  • Memory and concentration impairment

Stress And Your Oral Health

Although stress is mostly known for the health problems mentioned above, it can also affect your dental health directly and indirectly. 

When a person is stressed, one of the first things that gets forgotten or pushed aside is dental health. This is an indirect effect where, depending on how a person reacts to stress, their dental health declines due to poor dental hygiene. 

Another issue that arises if you are in prolonged levels of stress, is that your blood pressure may increase and your immune system may be suppressed. 

So, how do these directly affect our dental health?

When you have a lowered immune system, bacteria growth can increase causing infections to form in your mouth. One of these oral problems are canker sores, which are small red-and-white ulcers. Because of this lowered immune system, stress can also increase your chances of getting gum disease

Dry mouth can also be an outcome of stress and increased anxiety by affecting how much saliva you produce. It is also a common side effect of depression medications. 

Teeth grinding or bruxism is another direct effect of stress. This is when you unconsciously grind your teeth while sleeping, which can make an unpleasant sound, potentially damage your teeth, and cause other health issues. 

Night Guards In Winnipeg

Protect your mouth from teeth grinding with our custom-made mouth guards. If you don’t know where to start, book a consultation with one of our amazing dentists, and they can help you find the treatment plan made for you and your smile. We are located in Garden City Shopping Centre and St. Vital Centre. 

5 Ways To Destress

Here are some tips on how you can help keep the stress away:

  • Find relaxing activities. Everyone is different - someone might find reading a book relaxing while another person finds hanging out with friends a better option to unwind. You might find meditating more your speed;  do deep breathing exercises and practice mindfulness. 
  • Exercise. Exercising helps alleviate stress. An afternoon exercise at the gym, yoga in your living room or walking your dog around the block, may be just the thing to help you decompress and get your mind off what’s been stressing you.
  • Get eight hours of sleep. We know this is easier said than done. Set an alarm on your phone every night reminding you to go to bed, so you don’t keep scrolling through your phone or continue watching the next episode of your favourite TV show. 
  • Eat a healthy and well-balanced diet. And avoid tobacco and limit your alcohol and caffeine intake. Click here to read our blog post about the importance of a healthy diet for your teeth. 
  • Seek professional help. There is nothing wrong with getting help. Talking to a professional therapist or counsellor can make a huge difference to your mental wellbeing. If you experience chest pain, shortness of breath, nausea, sweating, pain radiating into your shoulder and arm, and jaw and back pain, seek emergency help immediately. These are symptoms of a heart attack which can be mistaken for anxiety or stress.