Managing stress may improve oral health, says Nova Scotia Dental Association

A new report from the Nova Scotia Dental Association is connecting the dots between stress and oral health — laying out an argument that managing stress could improve an individual’s oral health.

The information is part of the organization’s 2019 Nova Scotia Oral Health Report.

“Stress could have an impact on your oral health,” says Dr. Nada Haidar, president of the Nova Scotia Dental Association and a practicing family dentist.

“It’s important for people to recognize that their stress could be affecting their oral health and to continue to share their oral-health questions and concerns with their dentist.”

The report says that although stress can be naturally occurring, excessive stress can lead to unhealthy habits, including poor oral hygiene. That includes forgetting to brush or floss and not visiting the dentist regularly.

“In stressful situations, some individuals will rely on unhealthy habits to cope such as smoking, alcohol consumption, cannabis use, and sugary foods and drinks,” the report reads.

“These habits can have adverse effects on oral health with links to gum disease, oral cancers, and tooth decay.”

Stress can also result in dry mouth, teeth clenching and grinding, and canker or cold sores, all of which can negatively affect oral health.

But there are solutions.

Dry mouth — often caused by medication used to manage stress-related conditions — can cause a greater risk of tooth decay, gum disease and infection.

The dental association recommends chewing sugarless gum and drinking plenty of water to help combat dry mouth.

Teeth clenching and grinding can lead to headaches, migraines, and fractures of teeth and fillings.

The association recommends talking to your dentist if this becomes an issue. Dentists may recommend a night guard to fix the problem.

Other solutions that can help manage stress include looking for ways to de-stress and relax, learning your own body’s coping methods and eating a healthy and balanced diet low in sugar.

The Nova Scotia Dental Association is a not-for-profit organization representing 500 dentists in the province.

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