Excessive stress can affect your body in a myriad of ways.
According to research, 80% of American employees report feeling stressed at work. Are you feeling a little burned out yourself?
It’s easy to get caught up in the pace of a busy, on-the-go lifestyle. As you seek to balance the demands of both work and home, the pressures of both can become overwhelming. Yet, when our stress levels rise, so do our risks of developing both mental and physical ailments, including dental health concerns like periodontitis.
Today, we’re taking a closer look at the ways mounting workplace demands can take their toll on your teeth, gums, and mouth. When you better understand this connection, you can take steps to better manage this stress in your daily life.
Periodontitis and More: Dental Health Concerns and Stress
When you’ve had a particularly busy week at work, you might feel tired and drained. You may also experience some of the more easily recognized stress-related ailments, such as a headache or stomachache.
However, you might not realize your dental health is also taking a hit. Excess stress can lead to a range of issues in and around your mouth. Let’s take a look at a few of the most common conditions.
Do you wake up in the morning with a tense, sore jaw? If so, teeth grinding, or bruxism, could be to blame.
This is one of the ways your body seeks to release the pent-up tension it is carrying. As it occurs primarily at night, you may not even realize you do it, or you might notice it during the day, as you sit hyper-focused in front of your computer screen at work.
Either way, the telltale aches and pains can help you pinpoint what’s going on. If you suffer from bruxism, you may also get headaches throughout the day. Over time, this condition can damage your teeth and wear down your enamel. Your dentist can help fit you for a custom night guard to prevent this outcome.
During periods of peak anxiety and stress, your body is more susceptible to symptoms of acid reflux. This acid can negatively affect your salivary glands and decrease the amount of saliva they produce.
In turn, you might experience uncomfortable feelings of dry mouth. In addition to being unpleasant, this condition can also lead to more serious dental health concerns, including tooth decay and infection, as well as gum disease. Moreover, dry mouth is also a common side effect of many medications designed to combat symptoms of stress and depression.
Stress decreases your body’s natural immune response. Not only can this increase your risk of infection, but it can also make it more difficult for you to eliminate inflammation effectively. This is because stress is an integral part of your natural fight or flight response. At the same time, inflammation is your body’s response to a perceived threat.
These threats can include foreign invaders, such as viruses and bacteria, or they can include emotional and psychological stressors. When your body senses you’re under an immense amount of pressure, it emits chemicals known as pro-inflammatory cytokines.
Under normal conditions, these cytokines only present themselves for a short amount of time before they disappear. However, chronic stress can cause them to perpetuate indefinitely, leading to a variety of detrimental physical effects.
This can cause your gums to become inflamed, swollen, and painful, leading to periodontitis, or severe gum disease.
When you’re feeling pushed to your limits, it’s easy to forget or even skip the most routine tasks. This includes brushing and flossing twice a day.
If you’re too busy to take these steps or perform them adequately, it can lead to tooth decay, gum disease, and oral infections.
Steps You Can Take
You might not be able to make your job-related stress magically disappear, but there are steps you can take to prevent this pressure from mounting to the point that it affects your dental health.
On the oral hygiene side, make sure to attend your regularly scheduled dental checkups! This is a great time for your dentist to catch early signs of any dental issues and treat them before they become bigger problems.
In the meantime, remember to practice self-care and take some time to unwind every day, even if it’s only a walk around the neighborhood after dinner. Working around the clock and barely breaking for family time can leave you feeling resentful and overextended.
In addition, other helpful stress management tips include:
- Mentally reframing stressful situations to make them more positive
- Taking a more proactive approach to planning and organizing
- Applying relaxation techniques, such as meditation, deep breathing, or guided imagery
- Repeating a calming, affirming mantra
- Practicing a spirit of gratitude and self-affirmation
While these techniques may not work every time or in every situation, they can help you identify and manage stress as it appears throughout the day. With practice, you can help safeguard your physical and mental health against the negative toll such emotions can take.
Relieve job stress and reclaim your health.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed at work, you’re far from alone; however, this solidarity is no reason to stay stuck in the same routine. Identifying the root causes of your stress can help you find ways to mitigate it as much as possible.
Ultimately, your mouth is often one of the first places you’ll start to see signs of physical tension. This is because your dental health and overall health are so intricately linked. To help prevent periodontitis, tooth decay, and other oral health issues, look for ways to help manage and reduce your stress where possible.
For more information or to book an appointment, feel free to contact us today.