Can your mind influence your oral health? Tips and tricks for managing stress-related oral issues
These days it is well known that your mental health can impact your physical wellbeing. What many people don’t realise is that there is a connection between stress and oral care too. To help you avoid these and other problems, here’s a quick rundown of the links between feeling stressed and problems in your mouth.
Stress and dry mouth and gingivitis
Your mouth contains an impressive number of bacteria – some good, and others bad. Good bacteria can help keep your mouth healthy, while bad bacteria can contribute to oral issues like tooth decay or gingivitis. Stress can disrupt the natural balance of the oral microbiome1, and an imbalanced microbiome can lead to the early stages of gingivitis2. Also, a lack of saliva can result in a dry mouth, and stress can have an impact on how much saliva you produce.
What to do: If you have dry mouth or gingivitis it is important that you firstly seek advice from your dentist. You might also like to try Zendium toothpaste, which has a prebiotic benefit which promotes good bacteria and reduces bad bacteria*. With regular use, it results in strong teeth, healthy gums**, and fresher breath for up to 12 hours***. Zendium toothpaste also is made without SLS, a foaming agent which can aggravate a dry mouth feeling. Zendium is proven to be 4 times kinder to your mouth than a regular toothpaste with SLS****.
Other links between stress and oral health
Grinding your teeth
When stressed, you may be more likely to grind your teeth. Some people do this in their sleep, while others do so when awake, but are not aware of it. Grinding your teeth over a long period can affect the surface of the teeth, leading to weakening and breakdown.
What to do: Try to be vigilant to grinding your own teeth, or ask a partner to let you know if they notice you doing so in your sleep. Ask your dentist if you have any concerns.
Many people eat poorly when they are stressed. It’s harder to find the time to plan, buy, and cook healthy meals when you are doing lots of other things, or if you are worried or anxious. This can impact on your mouth. Meals with a high sugar content can lead to the growth of bad bacteria and inflamed gums.
What to do: Try to take care with your food choices, and if it’s becoming a problem try keeping a food diary to work out exactly what you eat. Prepare healthy snacks in advance and eat lots of vegetables, as well as calcium-rich foods to fortify your teeth.
Not seeing your dentist
Like most administrative tasks, it’s easy to let seeing your dentist for regular oral health check-ups go out of the window when you are stressed. When you have other things going on in your life, heading to the dentist is often the last thing on your mind. This means oral health problems often go unnoticed.
What to do: Try to prioritise visiting your dentist even when you are stressed. Get an appointment in your lunch hour or before work so it doesn’t take up too much of your free time. Regular dental visits are essential to your good oral health.
There are lots of connections between mental and physical health, and oral hygiene is just one of these. Feeling overwhelmed by life can have an impact on your mouth and teeth, but taking just a few small steps can make things feel a whole lot better.
1 Fabian, T, et al. In: Wiley Encyclopaedia of Chemical Biology, 2008: 1-9. Edited by Begley TP. Hoboken, NJ, US; John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
2 Lamont RJ & Hajishengallis G. Trends Mol Med 2015; 21:172–183.
* Refers to the gum health and gum problems associated bacterial species in dental plaque which changed significantly over a 14-week clinical study with 102 subjects.
** Based on results in 113 people who used Zendium, in a gum health clinical study, UK 2017.
*** In vivo study on 93 subjects during 4 weeks, regular use, UK 2017
**** Compared to a toothpaste with SLS, 30 mins after use