The main enemies of good oral health are plaque, acid and poor hygiene habits. That makes sense. But there is something else that is negatively impacting your oral health: mental health issues. Let’s take a look at how your mental health can impact your oral health while damaging your smile.

Increased stress

Since last March, we have all been under a considerable amount of stress from the COVID-19 pandemic with stay-at-home orders, missing supplies and fears of contracting SARS-CoV-2. We have found that dentists have seen a significant rise in stress-related oral health conditions since the pandemic began. 

In fact, more than half of dentists reported an increase in teeth grinding, which can lead to jaw pain, earaches and headaches. It can even lead to worn down, chipped and cracked teeth. And the biggest culprit of that is the added stress we are all under. That’s because stress can cause us to start some bad habits such as drinking, smoking and overindulging in sugary dishes. These can all contribute to cavities, gum disease and even oral cancer. 

Feeling anxious

Similar to stress, anxiety can cause you to grind or clench your teeth too. This is not by choice, especially when it occurs while you are sleeping. Anxiety can also lead to canker sores and keep them from healing properly. 

Additionally, anxiety can also cause tics, which can include uncontrolled movements of the mouth to sucking motions. This can injure your tongue or cause physical damage to the teeth and gums. 

To make matters worse, anxiety has also been linked with Burning Mouth Syndrome, which is an ongoing and recurring burning in the mouth. This is despite your mouth or tongue being physically scalded by any type of material, such as hot coffee or soup. 

Feeling depressed

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention note that one out of six adults will have depression at some point in their life. As a result, nearly two-thirds will experience a toothache. This is often caused by mental fatigue and exhaustion because it can lead to avoidance of regular self-care. That self-care can be brushing, flossing and even visiting the dentist. 

Those who are suffering from depression also have excess cortisol, which is the hormone that works to help the body fight what it construes as danger. In turn, this elevates blood pressure and heart rate, but also weakens the immune system. It can give bacteria that cause gingivitis and gum disease a chance to invade your mouth. 

It’s time to fight back. Contact Dr. Mayoor Patel at Craniofacial Pain & Dental Sleep Center of Georgia to learn more about how to prevent further damage to your oral health and well-being.