You’ve probably heard that stress and lack of sleep can impact a lot in your life. It can make you irritable and emotional, and cause people to want to avoid you. But did you know that stress and fatigue can actually impact your oral health, too?

A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 19% of children aged two to 19 have untreated cavities. While children’s oral health is important, it’s also crucial to take care of what’s going on in your own mouth. According to Irish News, stress both directly and indirectly impacts your oral health. The more stressed you find yourself, the more likely you are to neglect day-to-day activities like taking care of your mouth, teeth, and gums. You may become so stressed that you avoid going to appointments like dentist visits. You may even begin to pick up bad habits, like smoking and drinking, that can negatively impact your teeth.

The World Health Organization has said that stress is the “health epidemic of the 21st century” and long before we even got to this point in time, scientists have said stress can make gum disease worse. Since 1950, scientists have done research to find that one type of gum disease actually has a link to stress. This gum disease is called acute necrotising ulcerative gingivitis. It’s an extremely painful disease that leads to bad breath and causes the gums to fall off.

Stress impacts the gums by producing elevated amounts of the hormone cortisol in the body, which can suppress the immune system, making gum disease worse. Along with stress, a study out of the Osaka University School of Dentistry found that sleep can also take a toll on your gums and lead to gum disease. The study shows that lack of sleep can cause an increased production of inflammatory hormones. These hormones do the same thing as the stress hormones do, essentially breaking down the gums. Each night, it’s important to try to get at least seven to nine hours of sleep. Doing this will ensure you’re well-rested and will protect your mouth.

Since it’s clear that stress and sleep are major contributors to your oral health, it’s important to take the proper steps to ensure you’re getting enough sleep and that your stress levels are low. Of course, avoiding stress altogether isn’t a realistic goal. We may try to avoid stressful situations, but stress is often inevitable. It’s all about how you handle it.

Try changing the ways you react to stress. If you’re put in a stressful situation, perform breathing exercises instead of getting extremely worked up over what is happening. Exercise is also a great way to reduce stress, and it can help you sleep better. Going to the gym can keep your body in shape, but in order to do that, you’re probably going to get tired out due to the hard work. The average gym member will visit the facility twice a week, so get yourself a membership!

Whenever you find yourself getting stressed or not getting enough sleep, remind yourself that without the rest and with the added anxiety in your life, your oral health may suffer in the end.

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