Stress is a result of an endocrine and hormonal imbalance. It
affects the normal balance of your body and can lead to gum
disease. The mouth mirrors many conditions of the body,
especially those caused by stress. Headaches, which are usually
stress-related, can restrict blood flow to the head. As a
result of the loss of blood flow, you can get a headache.
Chronic stress can lead to gum disease by reducing the
strength of the immune system, which leads to growth of
bacterial plaque. This bacterial plaque can invade the gum
structure and lead to loose, inflamed tissue, as well as possible
If you are stressed out and not paying much attention to
your body’s needs, you may be the victim of a poor diet, an
important factor in gum disease. Most people who are under
the influence of stress eat improperly. Your diet may consist of
quick bites of food, sugar, or alcohol, and reduced intake of
fluids. If you eat a high-sugar diet, you are certain to have a
more acidic saliva, and probably will be a candidate for bacterial
plaque. The bacterial plaque will irritate your gums and
be a cause of gum disease. Alcohol, as discussed in the previous
chapter, has a high sugar content and also diminishes the
saliva flow, which is a cause of gum disease. If you drink less
water and take in less fluid because of stress, you may notice
your saliva thickening. This can cause plaque to attach quickly
to the tooth’s structure. Plaque feasts on the fragile gum tissue
and eats away at the bone supporting the teeth.
Stress can also cause bad physical habits that can wreak
havoc on your mouth. Have you ever been in the supermarket,
waiting on line for what seems an eternity, and noticed
that the person in front of you is overusing his jaws? You can
tell by the facial musculature. Grinding and clenching of
your teeth can loosen your teeth, and the pressure it produces
can irritate the supporting gum tissue. In children, a
loose baby tooth can cause the gum to get loose and swollen.
Well, when you grind and clench your adult teeth, you are
loosening them, and this can have the same effect as a loose
baby tooth: it can cause loose, irritated gum tissue, which
can result in gum disease.
Colds are also a direct effect of a weakened immune system.
With colds and allergies affecting our immune system,
the mouth can become a secondary target, with the resulting
effect of gum disease.
However, positive stress can help our health and reduce
anxiety. Stressful situations can lead us to challenge our
spirit and sometimes leave us healthier. It’s how we react to
stress that is important. If you handle your problems well,
you may achieve a healthier immune system.
All in all, however, I would suggest that you try to minimize
the stress in your life, for it can play havoc not only on
your gums but on other organs such as your heart. Although
stress may not be considered a disease, it can be the aggravating
factor for such conditions as allergies, arthritis,
asthma, cancer, colitis, ulcers, heart disease, and various
nerve conditions. These conditions can all have an effect on
your gum tissue.
As mentioned earlier, stress may lead you away from
good daily gum and tooth care. You may be preoccupied with your problems and so neglect your body. However, you
can start to release your frustrations through positive
manipulation of the gum tissue. Think about how good a
gum massage feels. It can relax you. If you spend a minute
or two in the morning with gum massage, you will relax
your mouth and heal the gum tissue.