Most of our patients know a thing or two about stress. Whether you’re dealing with chronic stress, or a brief stressful life circumstance, we all encounter it from time to time. Most people associate stress with heart attacks or ulcers, but do you know how stress can affect your oral health?
Stress may negatively affect your oral health in indirect ways.
For starters, stress can cause folks to reach for coping strategies that aren’t so good for your teeth (or the rest of your body).
Junk food, sweets, cigarettes, or alcohol are just a few examples. When these substances interact with your teeth, they can do a lot of damage in the way of gum disease and tooth decay.
Secondly, when we are stressed, we tend to stop making positive health behaviors a priority. Let’s say you’re in the hospital after a car accident; your brushing and flossing routine will not be forefront on your mind.
Even a minor bout of stress from a tough day can have us reaching for our cozy bed and some relieve instead of taking the time to brush first.
And of course, keeping up with routine dental visits may fall completely off our priority list while under stress. This can prevent us from finding the early signs of decay and can cause more pain and stress later on.
How does stress affect our mouths directly?
Well, lots of folks grind their teeth as a physical way to deal with stress. You may be doing it without even realizing it! Ask a partner or someone who knows you well to tell you if you have this habit. Our doctors may suggest that you purchase a nightguard from your local pharmacy. If an over the counter option doesn't seem to do the trick, a custom fitted nightguard may be recommended to you, which can be molded and form for comfort and functionality by our lab technicians.
Also, when we are stressed we have higher levels of stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline, that put our body in a “flight or fight” state. This causes our blood pressure and blood sugar to increase, and our digestive and immune function to decrease. When our immune system isn’t functioning as it should, this can make periodontal disease more likely. It can also slow down the healing of other oral issues or injuries we may have.
What can you do about it?
The best thing you can do to prevent the stress of oral health issues is to maintain good dental hygiene and visit us regularly for routine visits. We want what’s best for you — and that includes a healthy mouth for a lifetime! You can always give us a call at 410-795-0055 or message us on Facebook if that is more convenient for you.
Ever seen those videos where someone puts a baby tooth in a glass of soda and watches it decay? Well, the effect of soda in an actual mouth is a bit different. You have your saliva to help wash away the sugar, you eat other things throughout the day, and brush at least twice a day to remove debris or plaque. Nevertheless, soda is not something we recommend you consume more often than a once-in-awhile treat. Here’s why:
Soda has an extremely high sugar content. The bacteria that cause tooth decay feed off of sugar and excrete acid, which is what causes tooth decay. The more sugar our teeth have to interact with, the more prone to decay they will be.
Think diet soda is a better alternative? Even though it contains zero sugar, it can still contain acids such as phosphoric acid or citric acid. Acid eats away at a tooth’s enamel and leaves it prone to decay.
Caramel color, Yellow 5, etc. Any type of artificial coloring can cause tooth-staining. If you prefer your teeth sparkling white, it’s best to stay away from soda. How about some sparkling water or plain water infused with fresh fruit?
When you do drink soda, make sure to rinse with water afterwards. And, as always, keep up with regular brushing and flossing to protect those precious teeth!
When it comes to tooth decay, it’s important to know the main culprit – acid. Acid is what eats away at our enamel and causes cavities.
Acid can enter our mouths in one of two ways: either directly through what we eat (citrus fruits, for example), or as a byproduct when oral bacteria consume the sugars that we eat.
Ultimately, a simple way to identify foods that cause tooth decay is to ask whether it’s acidic or sweet/starchy.
Acidic foods include things like citrus fruits, tomatoes, vinegar, kombucha and sour candy.
Sweet/starchy foods include things like candy, soda or sugar-sweetened beverages, fruit, bread, cereal, pasta and crackers.
The longer these things interact with your teeth, the greater the chance for tooth decay to occur.
For example, sipping on soda throughout the day, or chewing a gooey caramel treat, increases the amount of sugar that coat your teeth. Bacteria love to feast on this sugar, creating an acidic environment and putting your teeth at risk for decay.
To help protect your teeth against tooth decay:
And, as always, make sure to visit us regularly so we can remove tartar buildup and assess for early signs of decay. We recommend visiting Bupperts Doran's Chance Farm, http://www.bupperts.com/ for your healthy eating needs.
Tell us a little about yourself. (Where you're from, how you got into the field you are in, and time at Freedom Dental Care)
I am from Baltimore, MD. I have always loved coming to the dentist office and wanted to be a hygienist. I wanted to be in the dentist office while I continue to take classes so I became an assistant.
Share an experience with a patient or guest that has made a lasting impression on you.
A patient had trauma to her front tooth and we were able to make her a new front tooth that she loved, it felt very rewarding.
What is your favorite part of your job?
What is a little known talent you have unrelated to your profession?
I took dance lessons most of my life.
We love our patients, so we’d be more than happy to see you every day! Alas, we realize that’s not really possible, so here are some more realistic guidelines for making appointments.
In general, it all depends on your oral health status and your health history.
For most patients, the optimal frequency to visit the dentist is twice a year. Between your visits, enough tartar and plaque can build up to require a dental check-up and cleaning, especially if your dental hygiene isn’t as rigorous as it should be.
Our Dental Hygienists are great at scheduling you before you leave. This year we are working to expand our office to get you in easier and keep those smiles happy. You can always request appointments on Facebook or right here on our website too!
For others with gum disease, a genetic predisposition for plaque build-up or cavities, or a weakened immune system, you’ll need to visit more frequently for optimal care.
Depending on where you fall in those categories, we will prescribe the necessary frequency to keep your optimal health. We recommend checking your Patient Connect 365 account to update your communication preferences. If you or your child recently became an adult (18), please provide a unique email address and contact information.
It’s important to keep your routine visits with us so that:
• We can check for problems that you might not see or feel.
• We can find early signs of decay (decay doesn’t become visible or cause pain until it reaches more advanced stages).
• We can treat any other oral health problems found (generally, the earlier a problem is found, the more manageable it is).
There you have it! Those are the brass tacks for how often you should schedule an appointment.
But don’t let this keep you from stopping in and saying hi whenever you’re in the neighborhood! We love seeing your smile!
Here you will find contributions from the Freedom Dental Care team and it's affiliates.