Can Stress Contribute to Periodontal Disease?

Evaluate the Level of Stress in Your Life

Stress and having a calendar too full of necessary commitments seem the norm in our modern-day busy lives. The likelihood that our lives will slow down or become less cluttered with appointments, work, social obligations, and the day to day maintenance of our homes, our personal and our professional lives looks unlikely. Through a careful balancing act (and occasional mad scramble) most of the time people manage to get it all accomplished. Not without cost though, they sacrifice sleep, health and sometimes a little bit of sanity.

Everyone knows there is a physical and mental and physical price to pay for maintaining high levels of stress. People sacrifice their time to exercise, their attention to diet, and regularly give up hours of sleep to keep up with the demands of a busy and productive life. All of which compromise their ability to handle more stress. In other terms, everyone has their breaking point, functioning and performing does not indicate that your health is not being compromised.  One of the factors relating to stress that has often been speculated on but not previously proven through research, until now, periodontal disease as it related to stress has been evaluated in several recent studies.

The Research Indicates

As with everything else, stress can have a negative impact on overall oral health. A six week study conducted on a college campus found twice as many plaque deposits in medical students involved in a major academic exam in comparison to an equal number of students not involved in preparation for a major exam. Several mitigating factors seem to contribute to the overall decline of their oral health: sleep, diet, oral hygiene and regular exercise. In that order.

In Fact a 2007 study at another university found that the only lifestyle factor that had a larger negative impact on oral health than sleep was smoking.  A variety of factors have been analyzed for potential influence on periodontal disease and oral health, even the number of hours a person works and if they eat breakfast have been studied. The leading lifestyle factor, smoking, was followed next by lack of proper sleep, surprisingly a bigger factor than alcohol consumption and diet, though the study did conclusively link stress and alcohol to a measurable impact on the progression of periodontal disease.

Not getting adequate sleep seems to go hand in hand with maintaining higher levels of functioning stress and busier lives. In corresponding follow up studies, improved sleep (a minimum of seven hours of sleep per night) had a direct correlation with improved and diminished periodontal disease.

Science has established that damage from high levels of stress throughout life accumulate over time and accelerate aging on a cellular level. This damage and aging not only affects our ability to maintain a healthy glow and slow the progression of things like wrinkles but also ages our smile weakens our immune system and gives a foothold to chronic processes like periodontal disease. A new Study from UCSF demonstrated that cellular aging was diminished in participants who had good quality sleep, healthy diets, and active lives despite stresses that occurred in their lives.

To the Rescue

There are no magic fixes, no secret recipe to untangling an over hectic and stressed out life, using a “Good, Better, Best” scale can help people become conscience of what they have choices over and where there may be some flexibility. There are a number of other healthy options that can kick start an effort towards reducing and better managing the effects of stress, all of which won’t take any extra time, even if it adds to the “to-do” list.

Remember that it helps to manage the effects of stress when we consume adequate amounts of water (to promote adequate saliva production). Saliva, as you know, protects teeth and keep bacteria from being able to adhere to teeth and gums. Busy people sometimes forget or neglect drinking enough water. Chewing sugarless gum can also help stimulate saliva during a busy day as can eating crunchy fruits like apples.

Increasing physical activity and getting a healthy amount of sleep greatly improves the bodies ability to repair, regenerate and restore all the way down to a cellular level. Since our lives look to remain stress filled, finding time to let your body both recover and remain strong are imperative to overall health both in your mouth and your body.

People can take some supplements that have also have demonstrated a usefulness in promoting healthy gums and teeth, one of which is CoQ-10. Studies demonstrate a link to it and improved and reversed periodontal disease.

We are all doing the best balancing act we are capable of. Don’t forget to schedule in an appointment with your dentist to ensure your mouth stays healthy and your teeth strong. Call our team today for appointments.

Marilyn K Jones DDS

Address: 800 Bering Dr Suite 204 , Houston, TX 77057
Phone: (713) 785-7767
Email: mjones@hal-pc.org

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