If you've suffered from generalized anxiety disorder for a long time, you know it affects your entire well-being. The stress caused by generalized anxiety is often seen in the physical body through the form of muscle tension—and even dental problems. Here are four ways generalized anxiety disorder affects your dental health.
1. Jaw Problems
Do you notice your jaw popping while you're chewing? This is a common sign that you are suffering from temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ). If TMJ is left untreated for long enough, the condition can become painful, and it can even result in your jaw locking up while eating or talking. How is this related to anxiety? Because generalized anxiety disorder is capable of causing tension in your jaw muscles, which worsens TMJ and its symptoms. Therefore, reducing anxiety is a good way to relieve the symptoms of TMJ.
2. Teeth Grinding
Bruxism (teeth grinding) is another issue caused by generalized anxiety. Closely related to TMJ, bruxism is often caused by jaw muscle tension due to stress. When you're stressed out with anxiety, you are far more likely to grind your teeth, especially at night while you're asleep.
If left untreated, bruxism wears away your tooth enamel, which is why it's important to never ignore bruxism. If you suffer from the condition, speak with your dentist, who will create a custom mouth guard for you to wear at night. This guard will protect your teeth and also help you to sleep comfortably and confidently.
3. Dry Mouth And Cavities
If, like many sufferers of generalized anxiety, you smoke to relieve stress, you are placing your mouth at risk of cavities. This is due to the fact that cigarettes cause dry mouth, which is problematic because saliva protects your teeth by washing away the bacteria that cause cavities.
Therefore, if you self-medicate by smoking, it's best to find other ways to relieve your anxiety, such as yoga, exercise, meditation, or gardening. These relaxing hobbies are excellent for reducing your stress without increasing your odds of suffering from dental problems.
4. Harmful Brushing Practices
If you're brushing your teeth excessively hard due to anxiety, you're making a big mistake. Though it may seem like brushing harder cleans your teeth better, the reality is that brushing too hard actually damages tooth enamel and can lead to tooth sensitivity.
So brush your teeth calmly and gently to keep your pearly whites happy. And don't be afraid to speak with your dentist about how generalized anxiety affects your dental health.