Stress can wreak havoc on your body, and that includes the health of your mouth, gums, and teeth. In the paragraphs that follow, we will discuss how stress can negatively impact your oral health and the steps you can take to protect your teeth and gums from damage.
Causes of Tooth Damage and Loss
Tooth loss as an adult results from gum disease that gets severe enough to cause the teeth to become loose and fall out. Tooth loss can also result from badly decaying teeth that eventually need to be pulled due to the extent of the damage done. Stress exacerbates both of these issues in many ways. Below we will discuss the ways that stress impacts oral health.
How does Stress Affect Tooth Loss?
Stress can lead to the decay and loss of teeth in several different ways. First of all, stress lowers your immune system and creates a great deal of inflammation within the body. A lowered immune system along with inflammatory processes will increase your risk of developing gum disease and tooth decay. Of course, the further advanced gum disease and tooth decay become, the greater your risk of tooth loss. 
Secondly, stress can completely overwhelm you to the point that you may not put a great deal of importance on maintaining a good oral health routine. Therefore, the more stressed you become, the more likely you are to slack on brushing and flossing your teeth regularly. This can create cavities and plaque buildup that can lead to tooth loss due to decay and gingivitis. 
Last but not least, stress can cause you to reach for sugary junk foods to create comfort from the chaos you may be experiencing. Eating healthy foods such as moderate amounts of fruits and vegetables is a vital part of maintaining a properly functioning immune system that will ward off gum disease and protect against cavities. Aside from a healthy immune system, eating fruits and vegetables is good for your teeth and can even help reduce plaque buildup, whereas consuming sugary processed foods makes tooth decay more likely. 
How to Prevent Stress from Damaging your Mouth?
There are many steps you can take to reduce the stress in your life and decrease your chances of suffering from tooth decay or loss. The following tips will give you a good place to get started.
- Manage stress in your life: No one can eliminate stress from their life, but there are many ways that you can learn to better manage the stress you experience. If you have too much on your plate, learn to delegate some responsibilities to others. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when needed. Taking a few minutes each day to meditate can also reduce stress and improve your immune system. 
- Have a good sleep routine: Sleep is essential to a healthy immune system and a reduction in overall stress. It’s best to aim for 8 hours of sleep most nights of the week. Your sleeping area should be dark, and electronics should be kept away from this area. Begin winding down about an hour before you intend to drift off to give your body a gradual shift from being active to being sedentary. This will make falling and staying asleep come more naturally.
- Exercise regularly: Regular exercise improves the immune system and promotes better quality sleep. It doesn’t have to be strenuous exercise to be helpful. Something as simple as taking a half hour walk several times a week can lead to less stress, better sleep, and improved immune function.
- Eat healthy: Healthy, nutrient-rich foods such as fruits and vegetables improve your overall immune system and help protect against the harmful effects of stress. These nutrients also provide an extra layer of protection from the development of gum disease which promotes tooth loss.
- Have meaningful relationships with others
- Relationships with others you care about can reduce stress as well. Having strong friendships with others who have gone through similar circumstances as you will give you someone to share personal thoughts and feelings with. These bonds create a sense of fulfillment and happiness that is a natural antidote to stress.
While stress cannot be avoided entirely, following these tips can help you control the stress that can lead to the decline of your oral health. Staying healthy will ensure that you focus on the important steps of caring for your teeth and gums properly, and an overall reduction in stress will help you prevent tooth loss due to decay.
We here at Dr. Jeanne Salcetti’s office are always available to provide an evaluation if you have concerns or issues with your teeth or gums. Please know we want to help you achieve total health and wellness and recognize it starts with your oral health. Please call our office at 719-594-0091 to schedule an appointment. We look forward to seeing you.