How Practicing Yoga Offers Dental Health Benefits
Yoga not only offers an excellent way to keep your muscles and joints limber but may also help you avoid dental health issues. In fact, performing yoga several times a week, in addition to practicing good oral hygiene, will help you maintain your healthy smile.
How Yoga Protects Your Smile
Stress causes a variety of changes in your body, some very noticeable, others more subtle. When you're feeling stressed, your muscles become tense, and painful knots soon form in your shoulders, neck, and back. Muscle pain is often accompanied by stiffness and headaches that make handling stress even more challenging.
You may also experience nausea or diarrhea or feel a little short of breath when your stress level rises. Chronic stress can increase inflammation throughout the body and raise your risk of stroke, heart attack, and high blood pressure.
Anxiety and stress also take a toll on your oral health, causing a variety of dental issues, including gum disease, dry mouth, cavities, and cracked teeth.
Keeping your stress level under control with yoga can reduce your risk of:
- Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMJ). TMJ affects the muscles, joints, and ligaments in the hinge joints in your jaw, triggering pain, stiffness, and other TMJ symptoms. The hinge joints control the movements of your jaw and make it possible to open and close your mouth when you eat and speak. Yoga reduces jaw muscle tension and improves head posture, two factors that can cause or worsen TMJ.
- Tooth and Gum Injuries. You may be more likely to grind or clench your teeth while you sleep if you're stressed. Grinding and clenching exerts tremendous pressure on your teeth and may result in cracked or broken teeth and dental work, receding gums, or loose teeth. When you practice yoga, your body decreases the production of the stress hormone cortisol. You'll be less likely to grind or clench at night if your cortisol level declines. Yoga also triggers the release of serotonin, a hormone that helps you feel calm and grounded.
- Dry Mouth. Have you ever noticed that your mouth feels dryer than normal when you're stressed or anxious? Stress affects the release of saliva, the natural fluid that keeps your mouth moist and washes away bacteria. The deep breathing techniques you use when you practice yoga stimulate salivation, providing a natural solution to dry mouth.
- Cavities and Gum Disease. If your mouth is too dry, bacteria flourishes, which may increase your risk of cavities and gum disease. In a study published in the International Journal of Yoga, researchers discovered that practicing yoga improved gum disease treatment outcomes by reducing stress.
- Bad Breath. Dry mouth is also a key factor in bad breath. If mouthwash and breath mints only offer temporary relief, spending more time on yogic breathing just may improve your breath.
- Inflammation. Inflammation can affect your oral health, whether it's caused by stress or another issue. Chronic inflammation may increase your risk of gum disease, a condition that can lead to tooth loss if it's not treated promptly. Yoga reduces inflammation throughout your entire body, helping you boost your oral and overall health.
- Infection. Stress may also affect the functioning of your immune system, making you more susceptible to illness, disease, and infection, including gum disease. If yoga is part of your life, you may also find that you recover more quickly if you need oral surgery.
Would you like to improve your oral health with yoga? Enrolling in a yoga class offers a fun, natural way to protect your teeth and gums.