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Dental Health During a Pandemic: Six Ways Stress Can Affect Your Dental Health

Taking care of your dental health during a pandemic is extremely important.  Your overall health depends on it as your oral cavity is the entryway to your body.

Being dentists and dental hygienists, we are always thinking about your teeth. After all, it’s our job to keep our patients healthy.   

The whole COVID, pandemic situation has thrown many of us off of our regular routine. Millions of us in the DMV (District of Columbia/Maryland/Northern Virginia) have been sentenced to our homes during the quarantine, which has affected our physical and mental health. *** It’s easy to fall back into bad habits such as snacking, sodas, junk food, and failing to exercise regularly.

Your dental health, especially during a pandemic, is even more important. If you have been stressed during this period of time which most of us have, it may affect your teeth. Here are six red flags that stress has affected your dental health:

  1. Grinding or clenching your teeth: Most people who grind or clench their teeth do so while they are asleep. This is a common oral problem caused by stress and anxiety. Typically it can cause headaches, a sore jaw, and teeth damage. Teeth grinding or clenching can be treated by counseling, meditation, and exercise.  Dentists can prescribe and manufacture a nighttime appliance to be worn at night.  Nightguards and retainers are extremely effective at relieving stress.   
  2. Gum Disease: The body has a more difficult time fighting infections when it is stressed. Your teeth and gums can become infected as well. Symptoms of gum disease include loose teeth, bleeding gums, and bad breath. Gum disease can be exacerbated by teeth grinding, clenching, cigarette smoking, and poor diet. Your dentist can examine and screen you for gum disease.
  3. Canker Sores: Mouth ulcers, commonly known as “canker sores” can be painful and annoying. A mouth injury, lack of Vitamin B, and diet can cause them. Stressful events such as a pandemic or lack of sleep, can also trigger them. There are many ways to treat canker sores.  Come in for an examination if you are experiencing them.  We can prescribe rinses, medications, and even perform laser therapy to remove canker sores.
  4. Nail Biting: Nail biting is more than just a lazy way of trimming your nails. It’s also a stress-related habit that can be harmful to your teeth and your overall health. Nail-biting can move teeth out of their position and can also permanent damage to your teeth. Additionally, fingernails can transfer germs that can lead to mouth infections. Viruses are picked up by your hands and nails and can spread to the rest of your body! 
  5. Burning Mouth Syndrome: This is a dry, hot, and burning feeling in the mouth. Stress, anxiety, and depression can be the cause(s) of this syndrome. It is most common in women following menopause. We can work together with your physician to help alleviate your condition.
  6. TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint) Disorder: This happens when the joints that you use to move your lower jaw experience swelling or stiffness.  Severe pain along with clicking and popping then occur. Stress is a major cause of this disorder. Dentists may prescribe an anti-anxiety medication, soft diet, and exercise to work out the stress and anxiety.   

Stress that is not treated can cause many health issues and many of them start with your mouth and teeth. Remember to try to take care of your teeth and your overall health.  Remember to brush and floss, eat a healthy diet, and exercise.  Try not to delay your routine dental visits too much longer beyond six months.      

All Smiles Bethesda can treat you for any dental-related symptoms of the stress and anxiety you have experienced over the past few months. If you would like to schedule an appointment, please call us at 301-984-9646 or email us info@allsmilesbethesda.com or lorraine@allsmilesbethesda.com. We serve the Bethesda, Rockville, Silver Spring, and the Washington, DC area.

*** For more information on stress and the pandemic, visit this link

 

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