Relax! Your Smile Will Thank You For It

man relaxing in hammockMost people would admit that relaxation is plenty of reason to smile. However, not as many people realize that taking a load off from time to time can actually improve the health of your smile by allowing you to decompress from compounding stress. Your Lafayette dentist, Dr. Michael J. Young, knows well that excessive stress can be the undoing of an otherwise-healthy smile. Today, we explore some of the effects that stress can have on your smile to exemplify why stress-relief is an important component of good oral health.

What Happens When You’re Stressed?


When you’re stressed, angry, anxious, or otherwise agitated, your jaw might clench as you grit your teeth. The tension is a natural reaction, but when you’re overly stressed, grinding your teeth can become a habit. Known as bruxism, habitual teeth-grinding can wear down the chewing surfaces of your teeth, crack/fracture your tooth structure, and destroy existing dental work.

TMJ disorder

The pressures of excessive stress and teeth-grinding can damage the joints and muscles that control your mouth’s movement. Your temporomandibular joints (TMJs) connect your lower jaw to your skull and allow it to move while you bite, chew, and speak. Excessive stress can damage these joints, leading to a diverse range of TMJ disorder symptoms, including chronic migraines and difficulty moving your jaw.

Hygiene neglect

Whether it originates from your job, family life, a specific incident, or a combination of factors, excessive stress often means you’re preoccupied with your stress factors. The preoccupation and worry can cause you to neglect important everyday rituals, such as brushing and flossing your teeth at least twice a day. Slacking in your dental hygiene allows dangerous oral bacteria to gather en masse, significantly increasing your risk of developing a dental disease.

Weaker immune system

Studies have shown that stress, anxiety, and depressive disorders have a detrimental effect on your immune system’s integrity. As your body’s main defense mechanism, your immune system helps control oral bacterial infections by driving out harmful microbes. When your immune system is weakened, dental infections can linger and progress into tooth decay, gum disease, and other destructive oral health issues.

About Michael J. Young, DDS:

To request more information, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Young, contact our Lafayette dentist office at 337-237-6453. We serve families living in Breaux Bridge, Broussard, Scott, Youngsville, and surrounding communities. Dr. Young also invites you to find us on Facebook, where you’ll find news, tips, and valuable resources.