Can Stress Affect Oral Health?

woman with stress

Being stressed out is stressful enough, but knowing that constant or repeated high levels of stress can actually affect your health and make you sick certainly doesn’t help either. Too much stress can cause serious health issues throughout the body including heart disease, gastrointestinal problems, and obesity. But the concerns don’t end there. Our dental office in Kettering also wants our patients to know that high stress can also affect oral health.

Clenching & Grinding

During periods of increased stress, a common and automatic response may be to clench our teeth together or even grind them against each other. If either of these habits is done too often, it could result in chipped, broken, or cracked teeth as well as damage to the jaw joint. The constant force put on the jaw joint during repeated clenching can make the muscles sore and eventually cause TMJ disorder. TMJ disorder, or TMD, tends to be painful and may also cause popping, clicking, or a locked joint. In order to get relief, your dentist in Kettering will need to find the best TMJ treatment for your individual case.

Gum Disease

When many people think of gum disease they often immediately assume it was caused by poor dental hygiene. But there are several other factors that can put you at increased risk including smoking, medications, clenching or grinding your teeth, and stress. Gum disease is a serious condition that not only affects your mouth but also your whole body. If left untreated, gum disease can cause tooth loss, heart disease, and increase the risk for stroke.

Lower Your Stress & Protect Your Health

Stress is a natural part of life, but there are things you can do to help protect your health against the negative side effects of too much of it.

  • Take a Deep Breath. Believe it or not, sometimes all you need to reduce stress is a few minutes of deep breathing. Focusing on your breath can lower your heart rate and help you feel more relaxed almost instantly.
  • Work up a Sweat. Exercising regularly increases endorphins, serotonin, dopamine, and testosterone. These chemicals are known to help make us feel good and combat anxiety and stress. Go for a walk, do some yoga, swim some laps. Whatever you do… just get moving.
  • Sleep it Off. It’s recommended that adults get 7-9 hours a sleep every night, but many of us don’t. A thorough night’s sleep can reboot your body, lower stress, and give your body a chance to recover.

Nobody likes feeling stressed, and nobody wants to put their health at risk because of it. Commit to finding ways to help you relax, handle stress better, and keep anxiety low.

We have three dental offices in Middletown, Kettering, and West Chester.

Are Headaches and Dentistry Related?

woman with headache

All of us have experienced at least one headache throughout our lives. And while headaches are certainly uncomfortable, there are millions of Americans who suffer with regular headaches or more severe migraines regularly. During this National Migraine & Headache Awareness Month, our dental office in Middletown wants to help do our part by educating our neighbors on how these debilitating migraines or headaches may just be related to dentistry.  

Is it a Migraine or a Headache?

Defining the difference between migraines and headaches can be tricky since both conditions have very similar symptoms. While of course both are marked by some sort of pain in the head, whether that be throbbing pain or dull pain, there are several symptomatic differences between the two that can help distinguish one from the other.

Headache Symptoms

  • Pain isn’t typically concentrated on only one side of the head
  • Pain doesn’t appear to worsen with activity
  • Usually has a more constant pressure sensation
  • Doesn’t result in symptoms in other parts of the body

Migraine Symptoms

  • One side of the head tends to hurt more, although not always
  • Sensitivity to light and noise
  • Blurry vision
  • Nausea

The Link Between Dentistry, Migraines, and Headaches

Even though the symptoms of headaches and migraines are most noticeable in the head, they may be triggered by something in the mouth. As weird as that may sound, it actually makes a lot of sense when considering the complex anatomy that surrounds and links to the head, including the mouth and jaw joints. That’s where the problems can begin.

Research has shown a promising correlation between a bad bite and headaches or migraines. When the top and bottom jaw joints (TMJ) don’t line up in a harmonious way, too much pressure is placed on the muscles in this area. Since everything in our bodies is interconnected, and these muscles happen to connect to the head, the pain that may be caused by a tired, worn out jaw muscle can find its way into the head, causing a headache or migraine. Bruxism, or chronic tooth grinding/clenching can have a similar effect.

An appointment at our our Middletown dental office can help evaluate your bite and check for any signs that you may have bruxism, either of which may be related to headaches or migraines. We will then discuss the best treatment options to help. Give us a call today, we’ll be happy to help.

Our three convenient locations in Middletown, Kettering, and West Chester are always welcoming new patients.

Don’t Let Holiday Stress Affect Your Oral Health

holiday stress

Late November is when we gear up for a few weeks of feasts, family, fun, shopping, and all that the holiday season brings. Between arranging schedules to see everyone you need to see, fitting in all the parties you’ve been invited to, cooking large meals, and everything in between, it’s no wonder that stress levels tend to soar this time of year. As we all know, stress can affect our overall wellbeing. But at our dental office in West Chester, we also know stress can jeopardize oral health, too.

What’s With The Jaw Pain?

Our bodies react to stress differently, and we aren’t even aware of some of the things it does when stressed.  Clenching and grinding our teeth tends to be one of those things. When we grind our teeth against each other, the forces put on the teeth can cause them to chip, crack, or break. Clenching can do the same thing, but it also affects the jaw. Habitually clenching our teeth may cause serious jaw pain and, if left untreated, long-term TMJ problems. If you’re experiencing clicking or popping in the jaw joint, jaw pain, or occasional jaw locking give your West Chester dentist a call.

Gum Disease

The main causes of gum disease usually include improper oral hygiene, dry mouth, or smoking. But one of the lesser known risk factors to developing this serious oral health problem is stress. Research has shown a strong link between prolonged stress and a higher risk of gum disease. Gum disease is a health problem that originates in the mouth but also can affect the entire body. If left untreated, gum disease can lead to tooth loss, heart disease, and other serious health problems.

Stay Calm, Stay Healthy

At our West Chester dental office, we know that life can be super stressful, especially during the holidays. If you find your blood pressure increasing and your anxiety levels rising, try a few of these tips to relax and keep yourself healthy.

  • Eat Well. Fueling your body with the nutrients it needs can keep energy levels high and ready to tackle anything that comes your way.
  • Sleep Often. During the holidays we try to shove so many things into our schedules that sleep is usually the first thing we sacrifice. However, getting enough sleep every night can help ensure your body will stay healthy enough to enjoy all the holiday festivities you have planned.
  • Exercise Regularly. Hit the treadmill, go for a walk, attend a class — whatever you choose to do, make sure you exercise regularly. Exercise is naturally stress reducing, so don’t skip your workouts

The team at our West Chester dental office wish you and your family a happy, healthy holiday season!

What’s a Dental Night Guard?

dental night guard

So you’ve just had your six month dental checkup and you were told you need to consider getting a dental night guard. What exactly is a dental night guard and what is it for? The team at our dental office in West Chester is here to explain.

What’s a Dental Night Guard For?

Dental night guards are often the treatment of choice for patients who have a history of grinding their teeth while they sleep. Also known as bruxism, tooth grinding typically occurs at night when patients have no way of knowing they even do it. Chronic bruxism can lead to several problems with teeth and even the jaw. If left untreated, bruxism can cause broken, chipped, or cracked teeth, headaches, and TMJ/TMD. Bruxism can be treated and should be done so early to avoid future problems.

What Types of Night Guards Are Available?

There are two types of night guards: professional, custom-made and over-the-counter, boil and bite. While the night guards found at drugstores can work to reduce tooth grinding, there are several benefits to choosing a custom night guard made by a dentist. To begin, custom-made night guards use detailed molds of your teeth, making them a more comfortable choice. Your dentist will also consider the alignment of your jaw during the fitting process to ensure your night guard won’t place unnecessary stress on the joint which could lead to other problems. Lastly, while a store-bought night guard may seem attractive at first due to the lower cost, custom-made night guards usually last up to 10 years, making them a more cost-efficient option in the long run.

Are There Other Treatment Options?

Night guards may be the most common treatment method to stop tooth grinding, but it certainly isn’t the only option. Other recommended treatments may include methods of stress reduction, limiting the intake of caffeine or medication with stimulants, or perhaps orthodontics to straighten teeth and realign the jaw.

Signs of Bruxism

While your dentist in West Chester is the best person to diagnose bruxism, there are several signs you should keep a lookout for in between visits including:

  • Flat or chipped teeth
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Waking up with sore jaw muscles
  • Neck or facial pain

If you happen to notice any of these signs and suspect you may be grinding your teeth, we welcome you to give our West Chester dental office a call to schedule an appointment. We’ll perform a thorough evaluation in our relaxing office to determine if bruxism is the root of what you’re experiencing. If it is we’ll talk with you about your treatment options and work together to decide which one may be best for you.