It's nearing the end of the school year for millions of students, and for professionals, Q2 is in full swing. If you're pulling your hair out from the stress, then you'll need to look into getting a nice toupee - and, while you're at it, a specialty breath freshening kit. That's because stress causes canker sores and halitosis.
Responsibilities take their toll
School and work seem more stressful than ever. According to a 2010 survey conducted at the University of California, Los Angeles, incoming college freshmen report having the lowest emotional health levels in 25 years of polling. Researchers attributed much of this trend to anxiety and stress.
"Stress is a major concern when dealing with college students," lead author John Pryor emphasized. "If students are arriving in college already overwhelmed and with lower reserves of emotional health, faculty, deans and administrators should expect to see more consequences of stress, such as higher levels of poor judgment around time management, alcohol consumption and academic motivation."
At work, things aren't much better. Two in five employees say that work is very or extremely stressful, according to a poll republished by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
All this anxiety can cause more than gray hairs and high blood pressure. It also throws your mouth's microbial population out of whack, leading to painful sores and oral odor.
A cycle of anxiety and ulcers
Plenty of physical agents cause canker sores: allergens, spicy foods, vitamin deficiencies and, most often, infected nicks or cuts. But that's not all that leads to these little spots. Canker sores - also called aphthous ulcers - may even occur due to changes in stress levels or hormones, according to the National Institutes of Health.
When you get over-stressed, your mouth's innate immune system has a harder time protecting your delicate oral tissues from bacteria. This can give microbes an inroad. They infect a small spot - usually a patch that you've bitten or nicked at least once - and what results is a pale, painful sore and terrible breath.
Hence, stress causes canker sores, which make you stressed, which causes more canker sores...
What can be done?
To put an end to this cycle and sweeten your breath all at once, try gargling twice a day with a specialty, alcohol-free mouthwash. You may also want to start using an oral care probiotics kit as a way to change your mouth's ecosystem for the better.
And don't forget to find some time to relax.