We all have so much going on in our lives; our busy schedules can be difficult to manage to cause stress! However, there are several reasons stress management should be a top priority.
Stress not only has psychological effects, but it can also have a significant impact on your overall health, which includes your oral health. Here are a few reasons why you should be prioritizing your health and manage your stress.
Did you know?
- Stress levels have been up 44% in the US in the past 5 years.
- 77% of people struggle with the physical effects of stress daily.
- 83% are stressed with work.
- Stress costs the US economy $800 billion / year.
- 60% of all diseases are caused by stress.
- Stress increases the risk of stroke by 50%.
Stress can lead to teeth grinding.
Do you ever notice yourself clenching your teeth when you’re stressed out?
You may not realize it, but you may be one of the many people that grind your teeth in your sleep as well.
Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, is commonly associated with stress and most often occurs during your sleep.
This can be quite problematic for your oral health—particularly your teeth, gum health, and jawbone. Nighttime teeth grinders can wear down their dental enamel and cause a lot of sensitivity and damage.
It can also cause TMJ issues and pain in the jaw and face. Ultimately, if you wake up in the morning with a headache or sore jaw, you could be mouth breathing and/or clenching and grinding your teeth as a result of stress.
Stress increases your risk for gum disease.
Stress can weaken your immune system, which is your body’s natural defense mechanism against disease and infection.
Including your oral health. When your immune system is worn down by stress, the harmful bacteria in your mouth seize the opportunity to wreak havoc on your gums.
Ultimately, this causes inflammation of the gums, known as gingivitis. Gingivitis, in its earliest stages, is easy to manage. If it goes untreated, it can progress to gum disease—a very serious oral health condition that has an effect on your whole body’s health. So, if you’ve been stressed lately, be sure to take extra care of your gums by brushing, flossing, and maintaining a consistent dental hygiene routine. If you are getting cavities or your gums bleed, it’s a sign something is out of balance. Look for the cause and visit your dentist or doctor.
People with chronic stress are more prone to tooth decay
There are several reasons why stress and tooth decay go hand-in-hand.
For starters, people tend to make poor choices regarding their health during times of stress.
This includes eating unhealthy foods—particularly starchy and sugary foods that often lead to tooth decay—and paying less attention to your hygiene routines. Both of these habits can make you more prone to cavities in the long run.
Taking medications for chronic stress and mouth breathing are also often more at risk for dry mouth. This oral health issue inhibits your saliva production, which is an important line of defense against bacteria that cause tooth decay. Unfortunately, all of these issues combined could mean more cavities down the road.
Stress can cause mouth sores.
Have you ever had a canker sore or mouth ulcer?
Mouth sores most often occur as a result of trauma or a depleted immune system. This is why they most often crop up during times of stress. They can be exceptionally painful and make it very difficult to eat, speak and chew. Thankfully, these painful sores often go away on their own after 7-10 days. However, if you get these often, make sure to take note of what your body is trying to tell you! You may be experiencing too much day-to-day stress.
I was getting mouth sore two to three times a month until I found a wound-healing mouth rinse that is safe to swallow that I now use to prevent them. It is amazing and really works for me as long as I use it daily.
Humans, their mouth microbiome, and their gut bacteria have evolved multiple ways to communicate with and regulate one another. Psychological stress and depression can promote the consumption of highly palatable foods, influencing which gut bacteria thrive.
Stress and depression can reshape the gut bacteria’s composition through stress hormones, inflammation, and autonomic alterations, which causes the gut bacteria to release metabolites, toxins, and neurohormones that can alter eating behavior and mood. The gut bacteria may also upregulate stress responsiveness and heighten the risk for depression, which probiotic supplementation may affect. We should focus on the links between diet, stress, the mouth and gut bacteria, and their impact on immune function and health.
The brain and the gut have a lively ongoing dialog through the gut-brain connection. Most people have had firsthand experience with the unpleasant ways that negative emotions and stress can perturb the gut. Digestive disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome commonly coincide with mood disorders. What we put in our mouth can manipulate the gut microbiota and their functions via probiotics, and healthy behaviors are a promising therapeutic strategy.
Independently and mutually, diet, stress, and mood can substantially influence which gut microbes thrive. Of all the gut microbes, bacteria are most often studied in relation to human stress, mood, and diet. Many modern practices such as antibiotic use, a Western diet, and high-stress lifestyles promote gut bacterial imbalances, called dysbiosis.
Certain supplements can help balance dysbiosis.
Although there is no agreed-upon measure of a healthy gut, a diverse and well-balanced gut bacterial composition is a strong candidate. Dysbiosis and low diversity may alter food cravings, metabolism, stress reactivity, and mood, compromising immune function and health.
Stress can affect health through its impact on mouth and gut bacteria.
The heightened inflammation that frequently accompanies stress and depression triggers blooms of pathogenic bacteria that encourage dysbiosis and a leaky gut.
Stress and depression can increase gut barrier permeability. The result, a ‘leaky gut,’ allows bacteria to seep into circulation, producing an inflammatory response.
Diet functions as a major pathway from stress to gut dysbiosis. Even mild stressors can encourage unhealthy eating. Stress and depression not only influence food choices, but they can also alter metabolic responses to food. Following a fast-food type meal, women who reported prior day stressors.
Diet has emerged as one of the most powerful predictors of gut bacteria composition — above and beyond one’s genes. Diet determines which bacteria will thrive in the gut, and the gut bacteria, in turn, aid digestion.
The Western diet, high in saturated fat, processed foods, and refined sugar, starkly contrasts with the fiber-rich, plant-based diets of indigenous cultures. The Western diet fosters a distinct gut microbiota signature with low gut microbiota diversity and greater gut leakiness, which may contribute to metabolic syndrome and chronic disease onset.
Likely due in part to the Western diet, 60–70 million Americans suffer from periodontal disease and digestive disorders, costing $100 billion annually.
The number of bacterial cells in the human body parallels the number of human cells. Apoptosis and supplements supporting apoptosis are on the rise.
Healthier diets can reduce the risk of inflammation and depression. The Mediterranean diet’s anti-inflammatory benefits have been demonstrated in multiple studies.
Mounting evidence suggests that these anti-inflammatory effects are mediated by the microbiome. Although multiple components of the Mediterranean diet have synergistic effects on inflammation, high dietary fiber and low levels of saturated fat sculpt the gut microbiota’s composition and its production of metabolites that reinforce the gut barrier.
Diet and stress modulate the mouth and gut microbiome, but the investigation of their combined effect among humans is just beginning. Existing evidence suggests the relationships among stress/mood, diet, and the mouth and gut microbiome, which ultimately form either a vicious cycle. These mind–mouth–body, human–bacterial relationships help to explain both resilience and chronic disease.
This science is young and requires interdisciplinary collaborations across the board– human, animal, bacteria – and specialties, such as medicine, immunology, nutrition, and psychology. Adapting lifestyles – including stress and diet – to manage mouth and gut bacterial populations that support healthy immune function will ultimately foster both mental and physical health.
We must start looking at the body as a whole and find the root cause, not just treat one or two symptoms of each body part at a time. The body is a complex system. We treat our mouth totally separate from our mind, body, and gut.
Our mouth is a warning system in our body, much like the check engine light on our car. We do not ignore the warning lights when they go off, yet we wait until our mouth is in pain before we even go to the dentist.
When we go to the Dr to treat disease, they don’t even think to ask about our mouth health. Times are changing. People are realizing just how much all of the systems in our body are connected.
If we truly want to be healthy, we need to start looking at our mouths and how we breathe first. It is like the saying, if Mama ain’t happy, nobody’s happy.
If the mouth is not happy, the body is not happy. Mind -mouth -gut. Our health starts at the top and goes downhill literally.
Our mindset affects our habits, and our habits affect what we put in our mouth, which in turn affects our gut health. Directionality of these complex relationships and isolating specific bacterial species, dietary components, and types of stressors will add clarity to how we proceed going forward.
Getting back to the basics and taking ownership of your health is a start:
Respecting our bodies,
Smiling increases dopamine which increases
Happiness and our
Intention in turn, makes anything
The choice really is yours. You get to choose what you think, what you tell yourself, what you put in your mouth and how you listen to your body.
If it were only that simple, right?