Stressed Out? You May be at Risk for Gum Disease

Stress takes a toll not just on your emotional health, but also on your teeth. A growing body of research asserts that high levels of stress in the body and lifestyle habits associated with the health problem may lead to periodontal disease, which can increase risk for bone loss.
Hormonal Changes
gum diseaseResearchers and dental practitioners speculate that the hormone released during stress called cortisol, can suppress the immune system, which may allow bacteria to thrive in the mouth. This may lead to severe damage to the gums and jaw bone, if bacteria build up over time.
Gum infection, in turn, can have a devastating impact on the immune system. Dentists explain that the kind of infection present in moderate to advanced periodontal disease not only involves several, toxic bacteria, but these microorganisms can penetrate the bloodstream and travel to the lungs, making patients vulnerable to health problems other than gum infection.
Lifestyle Habits
Stress causes people to develop unhealthy lifestyle habits which may affect oral health; this includes neglect of oral hygiene, poor diet and smoking. These factors can all contribute to increased risk for periodontal disease. Let us explore each of these elements.
Neglect of oral hygiene. The key to excellent oral health is proper hygiene. People under stress tend to disregard dental care; this allows accumulation of plaque, which is the primary cause of gum infections.
Dietary changes. Stress involves dealing with a lot of emotions; if not expressed and controlled properly, these emotional conditions may change eating habits, including food choices, amount of food eaten, etc. These factors may indirectly contribute to poor dental health.
For example, a person may choose to eat refined carbohydrates more frequently; in the long run, this will cause excessive build-up of plaque in the mouth.
Smoking. Some people resort to smoking as a way of relieving stress. This habit, however, can aggravate periodontal conditions. Nicotine causes vasoconstriction, or the constriction of blood vessels, which raises blood pressure.
This condition causes lack of nutrients for the periodontal tissue, which predisposes the person to gum infections. What’s worse is, when smokers develop gum disease, treatment is more difficult, as smoking slows down healing in the mouth.
Stress affects not just emotional well-being, but also oral health. To prevent gum infections, reducing stress is necessary. People should find healthy ways to cope with stress and break the bad habits. It is also important to visit the dentist regularly to properly monitor dental health, identify possible signs of gum disease and treat the condition as early as possible. Contact us today so we can help you deal with gum disease.