Stress is something that can affect not just your mental health but your physical health too. Your oral health is no exception but did you realise that stress can impact your orthodontic treatment too?
Stress Can Cause Bruxism
There are several ways that stress can directly affect your orthodontic treatment by having an impact on your health. A side effect of stress that could affect your oral health is bruxism.
Bruxism is the name for when you involuntarily clench your jaw and grind your teeth, which you might do during the day, but most commonly this behaviour occurs during sleep.
You might notice that you’re doing it, but it’s also something that you won’t necessarily pick up yourself as it often happens as you sleep.
Some people find their jaw or teeth are sore, especially when waking up in the morning.
As you grind your teeth, it can wear them down and cause chips and erode enamel, making them more vulnerable to bacteria and infections.
The grinding of teeth can also cause them to wear down so far that the enamel is constantly exposed to the elements, making your teeth sensitive and painful when eating hot and cold foods.
In addition bruxism can also encourage your teeth to move, leading to crowding and irregular bites.
Additionally, teeth grinding could cause TMJ disorder, a condition that affects the temporomandibular joint in the jaw, which can develop into a painful condition.
Stress Causes Mouth Ulcers
Stress can be a cause of another oral health problem: mouth ulcers.
You might notice that you tend to get ulcers when you’re stressed or rundown.
They occur when you’re stressed because of a change in hormones and additional stress behaviours such as repeated use of your tongue against orthodontic appliances or biting your cheek can attribute to mouth ulcers too.
Ulcers can be painful and irritating, sometimes making it difficult to talk or eat.
They also make it harder to follow your normal oral hygiene routine, and you can find that your braces rub or poke them.
Stress Impacts Your Healing Capacity
Stress also affects your body’s ability to heal.
If you have dental or orthodontic work performed when you’re stressed, it could take longer for you to recover from the initial procedure, and it may take your body longer to process the inflammation that can occur when braces are placed.
Stress could cause your treatment to become slower and mean that future procedures are delayed because you are taking longer to heal.
Stress Causes Changes in Diet
Many people have the tendency to indulge in unhealthy foods when they’re stressed.
Stress eating or “eating your feelings” can mean you have snacks and sweet treats more often than you should, or perhaps turn to fast food because you feel too stressed to cook.
Poor eating habits can increase your risk of cavities which will impact your orthodontic treatment time.
Changes To Oral Health Routine
Being stressed might also cause you to pick up bad dental habits.
You might start to neglect your oral health routine because you have other things on your mind.
“Stress could cause your treatment to become slower and mean that future procedures are delayed because you are taking longer to heal.”
Maybe you start to put off your dental and orthodontic appointments because you feel like you have better things to do.
This can affect your orthodontic treatment and your oral health in general.
How to Reduce Stress for Happier Treatment
Stress management can help you to ensure that your oral health and orthodontic treatment aren’t affected during a stressful time.
There are many ways to relax and deal with stress, and everyone can find that different things can work for them.
Sometimes you can deal with stress by addressing the situation that’s causing it.
However, there are other times when you need to be able to reduce your stress, even while stressful things are happening to you.
- Many people find stress relief through physical activity.
- Regular exercise can be a great way to de-stress and it releases endorphins to make you feel good.
- Other people can find their happy place by sitting back and relaxing with a good book.
- You might enjoy taking a long bath, or doing some gentle yoga.
- Meditation and breathing exercises are also useful tools to help you relax at the end of the day or perhaps prepare for the day ahead.
- Another way to deal with stress is to talk about how you’re feeling and the things that you find stressful.
- Keeping a diary or journal can also give you an outlet for your thoughts and feelings, and can help you to deal with stress.
So it’s important to know how to deal with stress from day to day, as stress can affect your oral health along with your general health.
Managing your stress can help improve your overall health and ensure that your orthodontic treatment doesn’t take longer than it should.