How Stress Affects Dental Health

Maintaining your Dental Health Care is Important following a Disaster

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, many Houstonians’ lives have been completely upended. Countless families are dealing with lost possessions, damaged homes, and temporary housing situations. While we understand that dental care may be the furthest thing from your mind right now, we’d like to offer some tips and helpful advice to maintain your dental health if your family is dealing with the stress of recovery and rebuilding after the recent disaster. During times of stress, the body is more susceptible to illness and infection, and dental health is no different. Here are some things to watch out for:

Gum disease or worsening of existing gum disease—Stress can depress your immune system and in turn, can cause further damage to your gums. Get professional attention before the condition progresses.

Canker sores or cold sores— One of the primary causes for mouth sores is emotional stress. Avoid acidic foods and toothpaste containing sodium lauryl sulfate. Use an over-the-counter product for pain.

Teeth grinding and temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD)—Stress can cause you to grind your teeth in your sleep. If you have headaches when you wake up, you may be grinding your teeth at night. Stress can also cause you to clench your teeth during the day unconsciously. Practice relaxation techniques and consider a mouth guard.

Poor oral hygiene— If you’re feeling overwhelmed with too much to do, you may feel that there isn’t time to brush your teeth or floss regularly. Make every effort to return to your brushing and flossing regimen and check that all family members are brushing and flossing as well.

Poor diet/nutrition— Living in an unfamiliar place, or not having access to your kitchen and stress eating can result in a poor diet lacking in the vitamins and nutrients that you need to stay healthy. You may also be tempted to substitute meals with sugary snacks which can lead to tooth decay.
In addition to stress-related issues, there may be other symptoms to observe and treat, if necessary. If you have any of the following symptoms, make time to see your dental professional before the problem becomes worse:

Mouth pain – Oral pain, swelling or bleeding, could signal an issue. Visit a dentist as soon as possible. And for severe dental or facial pain or swelling, seek immediate medical attention.

Temporary crowns or bridges – Have your crowns and bridges checked within a month after placement. If you had a temporary crown or bridge placed just before Hurricane Harvey, contact us to have your restoration checked. It’s also important to avoid eating hard or sticky foods with your temporary crown or bridge.

Lost appliances – During the height of the flooding, many people had to leave their homes with little more than the clothes on their backs. If your family lost items such as night guards for bruxism or custom fitted sports mouth guards, don’t delay in replacing these necessary dental appliances.

As Houston continues on the road to recovery, please remember that it is important to maintain your health and the health of your family. Returning to your regular regimen of daily oral care and routine checkups can ensure that small problems don’t become emergencies. At Town and Country Dental, we are committed to helping our patients in any way we can as our city rebuilds.