Stress affects your heart in several different ways, but you may not know that it can also affect your smile. Your body is designed to handle stress with a series of hormonal reactions that trigger the fight or flight response, but when the stress is prolonged or constant, it can be detrimental.
One of the most common stress-related dental health problems is bruxism. You may not realize you are grinding your teeth or may be doing it at night, but bruxism takes a major toll on your smile in a short period of time. TMJ disorders can be associated with both bruxism and stress and makes it painful or difficult to open your jaw, eat, and even talk.
Dry mouth occurs when the mouth makes insufficient saliva and is common during periods of stress. It can leave you vulnerable to both tooth decay and gum disease, and it can be extremely uncomfortable.
While you may not be able to reduce all stressors, you can take steps to reduce their effects on your health and your smile. Try to participate in stress-reducing activities, like Tai Chi or Yoga, a few times a day, and get plenty of sleep to restore equilibrium in your body.
A healthy diet and regular exercise are also beneficial. Try not to neglect your dental health during this time, and focus on good dental hygiene, regular checkups and preventative measures, such as a mouth guard, whenever possible.