In the United States, one in three adults over the age of 30 have periodontal disease. At the same time, many people are exposed to a wide variety of stressors, and the various psychosomatic disorders caused by stress are serious problems. Recent studies have revealed that periodontal disease and stress are closely related issues that threaten our modern health. In other words, healthy oral hygiene and appropriate oral care is important in maintaining our physical and mental health.
Does Stress Trigger Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease is a set of inflammatory conditions that affect the tissues surrounding the teeth. It is caused by the immune reaction of toxins and enzymes produced by the bacteria in dental plaque. It’s a terrible disease, in which you could potentially end up with loose gums and teeth fallouts. To prevent this, we need to remove plaque by brushing our teeth, improve our immunity through a healthy diet, and generally stick to living a healthy lifestyle. However, when you’re exposed to mental stress, your immune system weakens, and you become more susceptible to various diseases.
In a study investigating the relationship between periodontal disease and stress, people with stress showed higher probing depth. (PD: depth of periodontal pockets in the oral cavity.) It turns out that the more stressed we are, the more likely we are to have periodontal disease. Mental care is simultaneously important as daily oral care to improve immunity and prevent periodontal disease.
Proper Oral Care & Health
‘Self-efficacy’ is our ability to execute courses of action required to deal with prospective situations. In the field of dentistry, the higher the self-efficacy in oral care, the healthier the oral cavity remains, and the lower the risk of periodontal disease is reported. In general, oral care indicates brushing our teeth every day and regularly visiting the dentist for a check-up. Maintaining overall physical and mental health is essential in preventing periodontal disease and keeping up with healthy oral hygiene. Therefore, in addition to our general oral care, nutritionally balanced meals, and proactive stress-relief practices are as important.
The condition of our oral cavity, physical state of body, and mind are all significantly involved in periodontal disease. When it comes to oral care, the awareness in trying to properly care for our teeth, improves our self-efficacy. It’s a good way to maintain your oral health, so try to make it a habit.
Stress Can Cause Bad Breath!?
Oral hygiene doesn’t necessarily refer to the sole act of brushing your teeth. Stress is also relevant for bad breath. When a person feels stress and their sympathetic nerves become active, slimy and highly viscous saliva is produced. This makes the mouth dry, which causes bad breath. Researchers measured the bad breath substances in college students. Comparing the oral conditions of students before and after an exam, it was found that these bad breath substances were significantly more present on the day of the exam. Nervousness and anxiety of taking the test affected saliva production in the mouth, and these elements increased the potential for bad breath. When you feel nervous or anxious, you may notice that you have worse breath than usual. In that case, chewing gum to encourage a healthier saliva production can suppress our unpleasant bad breath.
Healthy Teeth, Happy Life!
Patients with periodontal disease are particularly common in the elderly. One of the reasons for this is that the elderly are heavily stressed by repeated life events (pregnancy, death in the family, etc.). The human immune system naturally declines with age, and consequently, more deliberate oral care becomes necessary. However, in order to keep the decline as gentle as possible and prevent periodontal disease, it is vital to have a preventive habit that focuses on mental care. Above all, it’s a great pleasure to be able to eat delicious foods that you love, no matter how old you are. Stress leads to periodontal disease, which limits what you can eat, leading to further stress. Regardless of your age, try not to fall into this vicious cycle, and let’s maintain a lifestyle that focuses on your oral health.
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Shimotahira, T., Setoguchi, T., Machigashira, M., Izumi Y., (2006) Clinical Evaluation of the Influence of Psychological Stress and Self-Efficacy on Periodontal Disease Progression. Journal of the Japanese Society of Periodontology, 48(3), 174-181. https://doi.org/10.2329/perio.48.174