The power of positive thinking can transform many aspects of your life, and studies show that being optimistic can have far-reaching effects on your psychological and physical well-being. Learning how to change your mindset can help to ease symptoms of anxiety and depression and reduce stress levels. But is it possible for a positive mindset to improve your dental health, too? Here are a few ways that staying positive can have an impact on your teeth.
Feeling stressed out is more than just a mental state. It has very real physical effects on your health and can cause chronic inflammation of gums and other soft tissues. Studies have shown a significant link between levels of the stress hormone cortisol and the prevalence of severe gum disease. Negative life events that trigger feelings of stress or depression may be a risk factor for developing gum disease. Reducing stress levels and easing symptoms of inflammation through a healthy, positive lifestyle can improve the health of your gums.
Bruxism & TMJ
Another physical side effect of increased anxiety and stress is muscle tension. Some studies have shown a link between anxiety and teeth grinding. When you feel stressed or anxious, you may not know you are clenching your teeth or grinding them. In fact, it is common for people with bruxism to clench or grind their teeth in their sleep. If this condition persists, it can lead to enamel erosion and hairline cracks in the teeth that make them more susceptible to breakage or decay.
Chronic clenching of the jaw due to stress is also linked to temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ). This is where the hinge of the jaw bone becomes misaligned. TMJ can cause clicking sounds or a popping sensation when chewing, speaking, or yawning. In more severe cases, it can cause the facial muscles to feel sore and the jaw bone to lock up or have a limited range of motion. Learning relaxation exercises that help you deal with feelings of anxiety can help the muscles in your body to relax. Being conscious of when you are clenching your jaw can even help you to notice when you might be experiencing underlying stress.
Cavities & Overall Oral Health
Feelings of depression often drain you of motivation to do even the most basic daily tasks, including self-care. Depression lowers your energy levels and gives you a feeling of hopelessness. In turn, that can make mundane routines like brushing and flossing seem somewhat pointless. Having a more positive outlook can help you feel more energized and appreciate how much better you feel after practicing self-care.
Taking care of your body and your mind can have lasting effects. Studies have shown a link between anxious or depressed patients and tooth loss due to cavities or gum disease. Having a positive attitude towards a diligent self-care routine that includes good oral care can prevent excessive plaque buildup, improve gum health, and reduce the incidence of cavities. Taking pride in your healthy teeth, as well as the rest of your body, can have extremely positive effects on your mental well-being.
Staying positive is an important aspect of mental and physical health, and the benefits to your dental health are significant. It’s also important to schedule regular dental cleanings and exams to make sure your teeth stay in good shape. High Point Family Dentistry is happy to provide you with compassionate and friendly care for all your dental needs.
Contact us today to schedule your next appointment!