Gum Disease and Stress - Dr. Colin Richman

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Gum Disease and Stress

August 14, 2014

By: Dr. Colin Richman

Stress seems to be everywhere these days. We face increasing demands and hassles at work and then we come home to more tension and pressure.

You’re probably familiar with many of the effects that a 24-7 stress cycle can have on your health, like weight gain, poor sleep, heart problems and many others. Did you know that stress may also compromise your oral health?

In fact, high levels of stress can contribute to a need to see a periodontist for treatment. Not only can stress interfere with your ability to maintain your home oral hygiene routine, certain hormones associated with stress may contribute to inflammation in the gum tissue. The end result can be gum disease.

Research suggests that the hormone cortisol, which is released during stressful times, can contribute to inflammation in the gums. If you don’t address the issue quickly enough, the gum disease can progress and lead to tooth and bone loss.

Furthermore, if you already have gum disease, excessive stress can exacerbate the episode, increasing its severity. Similarly, stress can increase the risk for a relapse in a patient with a history of gum disease.

While a general dentist may be able to treat gingivitis, more advanced gum disease requires attention by a specialist in this area, a periodontist.

Fortunately, there are effective treatments for gum disease. When the condition has progressed to the point that your gums have retreated upward, a periodontist can use an advanced technology known as LANAP (laser assisted new attachment procedure) to remove diseased gum tissue and re-attach the gums to the teeth. This minimally invasive intervention is a great improvement over the surgical techniques used in previous years.

Nonetheless, it’s best to avoid gum disease entirely, if you can.

Discuss your stress levels with your periodontist to determine whether your gum disease has been partially caused by stress. If that’s the case you may want to explore stress management techniques to give a boost to your oral health, in addition to your overall well-being. Call 770-442-1010 for more information and to schedule your consultation.

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