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Stress & Oral Health

Studies show an increase in young adults presenting with stress related oral conditions, often timed to students sitting exams.

Caffeine and energy drink fuelled study sessions, poor diet and oral hygiene habits, fatigue and tension related jaw clenching all contribute to the risk of stress related oral health conditions.

The Australian Dental Assoiation (ADA) offers the following tips to help prevent stressed related oral health conditions:

Acute Ulcerative Gingivitis

Acute Ulcerative Gingivitis (AUG) is an acute and severe gum infection.

Signs & Symptoms:

  • inlamed, reddened gums
  • Spontaneously bleeding gums
  • Sudden onset, very painful and can be accompanied by bad breath and a metallic taste in the mouth
  • Can cause enlarged lymph glands, fever, and general feeling of being unwell
  • Can be localised to one tooth or involve a number of teeth and can recur

Factors causing AUG include:

  • Stress
  • Poor oral hygiene with heavy deposits of plaque
  • poor nutrition
  • Smoking
  • Can be associated with underlying systemic diseases

Treatment & prevention:

Our dentists here at Drummoyne Dental Practice advise people who are suffering from AUG to come in for an assessment of their infection and have the best treatment recommended. Ongoing management by patients can include the use of special mouth rinses, thorough oral hygiene practices, healthy diet and quitting smoking.

Dry Mouth Syndrome

Dry Mouth Syndrome is also known as Xerostomia. This refers to reduced saliva flow to the mouth, which leads to a 'dry' mouth. It can have an impact on oral health because of an increased susceptibility to dental cavities, which is why it is important to control this condition.

Sign & Symptoms:

  • Dryness in the mouth, sometimes permanent, sometimes transient
  • Trouble eating, speaking, chewing and swallowing
  • A frequent need to sip water especially while eating or waking at night with a dry mouth
  • Sore and painful (burning) mouth, chapped or cracked lips and tongue
  • Recurrent dental cavities and/or oral yeast infections

Factors causing Dry Mouth Syndrome:

In young adults the causes are usually associated with stress, anxiety, depression, and nutritional deficiencies. Sports and energy drinks can exacerbate the condition because of their high caffeine levels. Alcohol abuse and use of illicit drugs also are a significant contributors to Dry Mouth Syndrome

Treatment & prevention:

There are a list of things you can do to control this condition. Here are a few tips to help:

  • Good oral hygiene- regular flossing and brushing of teeth and the regular use of a good fluoride toothpaste
  • Regular dental visits to help prevent dental cavities, which tend to increase wih dry mouth
  • Avoid caffeine containing drinks such as colas, coffee and tea
  • Hydration by drinking many glasses of water a day, preferably fluoridated tap water
  • Following a healthy diet, especially limiting sugar intake to avoid dental cavities.
  • Avoiding irritants such as alcohol and tobacco

Temporo Mandibular Disorder

Temporo Mandibular Disorder (TMD) is a musculo-skeletal disorder of the jaw area. It is characterised by a diverse range of symptoms including headaches, jaw and ear pain.TMD can be the result of grinding teeth and jaw clenching.

Signs & Symptoms:

  • Headaches
  • Sore and/or clicking jaw, especially the jaw point of the side of the face
  • Earache
  • Stiffness and difficulty opening your mouth, tooth wear and in extreme cases cracked teeth due to pressure caused by grinding teeth

Factors causing TMD:

Teeth grinding and clenching can cause TMD. Both of these can be caused by stress.

Treatment & prevention:

If you are experiencing headaches, earaches or jaw pain it's important to ensure that these are not the result of other causes- seek advice from your GP in the first instance. If the cause appears to be related to jaw clenching and tooth grinding, then it's important to see a dentist. Here, at Drummoyne Dental Practice, we can advise on treatment and prevention options, including relaxation exercises. In particular it is very important to reduce the stress on your teeth so they are not as susceptible to fracture.