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Stress and Your Oral Health
You may be aware of the physical and emotional symptoms of stress such as headaches, stomachaches, and anxiety. But did you know that stress can also affect your oral or mouth health?1 It’s important to pinpoint the causes of your stress and know your body's early warning signs. It’s also smart to take steps to reduce your stress.
Oral Conditions Caused by Stress
Stress can affect your oral health in a number of ways:
- Jaw issues, or disorders of the jaw joint or chewing muscles. These can cause pain around the ear or face.
- Teeth grinding, or bruxism. This can happen during the day, especially when you're concentrating, or at night.
- Poor oral hygiene, caused by a lack of good brushing and flossing. If you're too busy or forget to keep up with your dental hygiene, you can wind up with tooth decay and gum disease.
- Canker sores, which can be triggered by vitamin B deficiency and any type of mouth injury or irritation. Several studies now show that stress is another big trigger for canker sores.1
- Oral infections or sores, which may show up as ulcers, white lines, or white or red spots. These can be brought on by stress.
Talk to your health care provider about your symptoms.
Reduce Your Symptoms
It's important to get to the root of the problem and figure out why you're stressed. Once you've pinpointed the causes, think about how to lower your stress levels. In the meantime, follow these steps to get relief for painful oral symptoms:
- Talk to your dentist about treatment options.
- Address teeth grinding by asking your dentist about getting a custom-fitted night guard. It can be worn at night to prevent tooth damage caused from grinding and clenching. The night guard also creates a cushion to remove stress on your aching muscles and joint tissues.
- Avoid hard or crunchy foods when you’re in pain.
- Don't cope with tobacco and alcohol. These products can make your oral symptoms worse.
- Manage pain through gentle massage, physical therapy or pain relief medications.
- Ask about prescription medications. Anti-inflammatory drugs can help inflammation of the jaw joint. Antiviral drugs may prevent cold sores.
- Avoid the sun or use a sunscreen with at least an SPF of 30 to help reduce cold sores.
1 6 Ways Stress Can Affect Your Oral Health, Healthgrades, July 5, 2021, https://www.healthgrades.com/right-care/oral-health/6-ways-stress-can-affect-your-oral-health
This information is for educational purposes only and is not medical advice. Always consult with your dentist for appropriate examinations, treatment, testing and care recommendations.
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Individual and family medical and dental insurance plans are insured by Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company (CHLIC), Cigna HealthCare of Arizona, Inc., Cigna HealthCare of Illinois, Inc., Cigna HealthCare of Georgia, Inc., Cigna HealthCare of North Carolina, Inc., Cigna HealthCare of South Carolina, Inc., and Cigna HealthCare of Texas, Inc. Group health insurance and health benefit plans are insured or administered by CHLIC, Connecticut General Life Insurance Company (CGLIC), or their affiliates (see a listing of the legal entities that insure or administer group HMO, dental HMO, and other products or services in your state). Accidental Injury, Critical Illness, and Hospital Care plans or insurance policies are distributed exclusively by or through operating subsidiaries of The Cigna Group Corporation, are administered by Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company, and are insured by either (i) Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company (Bloomfield, CT); (ii) Life Insurance Company of North America (“LINA”) (Philadelphia, PA); or (iii) New York Life Group Insurance Company of NY (“NYLGICNY”) (New York, NY), formerly known as Cigna Life Insurance Company of New York. The Cigna Healthcare name, logo, and other Cigna Healthcare marks are owned by The Cigna Group Intellectual Property, Inc. LINA and NYLGICNY are not affiliates of The Cigna Group.
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