We are all familiar with the everyday perks of practicing yoga; increased flexibility, muscle tone, core strength, cardio health and tons of energy to name but a handful. So isn’t it lovely when a surprising benefit comes along; it’s enough to keep you smiling all day! And smile you should, because Yoga is great for promoting healthy teeth and gums, as well as preventing and treating dental related ailments.
Many Yogis and Yoginis practice yoga to aid relaxation. Stress affects over 526,000 individuals in the UK. Along with the psychological symptoms of anxiety, depression, mood-swings, and overwhelming emotions, stress also affects the body physiologically. Headaches, aches, pains, tense muscles, upset stomach and low functioning immune system are just some of the ways the body responds to stress. Often overlooked is the effect stress can have on our teeth.
Sufferers of stress are more likely to grind their teeth during sleep. Constant grinding causes cracks, enamel wear and broken fillings, which can lead to nerve damage, sensitivity, loose teeth and gum recession as a result of the pressure. Practicing yoga to reduce stress helps to prevent teeth grinding from occurring at night. Alongside your chosen yoga practice, it is always advised that you ensure the right dental care cover for any medical issues.
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder , commonly known as TMJ, is a medical condition that occurs when pressure or strain is put on the hinge joint in the jaw. Symptoms include chronic headaches, and pain when opening the jaw accompanied by clicking sounds. Poor posture, caused by slouching imposes pressure on the jaw causing the lower jaw to shift forward. This forces the upper and lower teeth to come out of alignment, and can result in jaw and muscular pain.
Practicing yoga focuses on re-aligning and correcting bad posture, and this relaxes the pressure on the jaw and teeth, reducing the likelihood of significant problems such as TMJ.
Periodontitis and receding gums
Pyorrhoea (Periodontitis), which is an infection that causes gum inflammation, and receding gums are caused by a build-up of bacteria in the mouth. Saliva is a key activator in cleaning the mouth of food particles and bacteria. When the salivary glands are affected by stress, they don’t produce as much saliva, causing “dry mouth”, and it is in this state that bacteria can grow.
Yoga practice teaches correct breathing techniques which help to prevent your throat and mouth from drying out. Certain poses can also encourage saliva production; bends and twists are particularly good for this. The resulting increase in saliva means a reduction of bacteria in the mouth.
It is always worth keeping in mind that yoga is a practice, and results won’t be immediate, although some improvements may be recognised more quickly than others. If yoga can improve your dental health in the long term, that’s definitely something to smile about.
Sally Collins is a professional freelance writer with many years experience across many different areas. She made the move to freelancing from a stressful corporate job and loves the work-life balance it offers her. When not at work, Sally enjoys reading, hiking, spending time with her family and travelling as much as possible.