It’s STUVAC and, even though it might seem like uni students have time off to relax, exams are fast approaching. For uni students, this means stress levels are high and many long nights of rigorous study lie ahead with very little sleep or down time. This is the familiar scenario faced by many uni students.
While it's easy to neglect your health during the exam period, this seemingly harmless act of prioritizing your studies while ignoring your overall health, can have permanent consequences for your mouth.
While the typical uni student exam-time diet of microwavable dinners and junk food serves as the most obvious link between oral hygiene and university exams, the causal relationship between the two can be far more dire than an increased risk of developing cavities. Did you also know that this stress has a lasting and devastating affect on your gums?
The Link Between Oral Health and Stress
Poor oral hygiene increases the level of opportunistic bacteria in the mouth. Stress and anxiety lowers the immune system. These two factors combine to create the perfect setting for bacteria to multiply as your immune system is unable to curb the growth of the bacteria in your mouth.
The rapid increase in the amount of the bacteria present in your mouth leads to:
- Acutely painful & bleeding gums
- Painful mouth ulcers
- Receding gums in between the teeth
- Excessive saliva production
- Bad breath
- Unsavoury metallic taste in your mouth
These symptoms are signs of an infection called ANUG (acute necrotising ulcerative gingivitis). It is also known as Vincent’s disease and trench mouth.
Other predisposing factors which increase your susceptibility to ANUG include smoking, a prior history of gingivitis, and any immunosuppressive disorders.
If ANUG is left untreated, the result is rapid and permanent loss of gum tissues, especially in-between the teeth. The bone holding the teeth in place can also be lost resulting in loose teeth. This process happens rapidly compared to other gum disease processes which makes proactive treatment of this disease vital.
Diagnosis and Treatment of ANUG
Diagnosis is usually clinical, though sometime a swab needs to be taken and sent to a lab for analysis.
Once diagnosed the treatment includes
- Debridement - which involves the removal of damaged tissue
- Mouth rinses (eg, hydrogen peroxide, chlorhexidine)
- Improved oral hygiene
- Oral antibiotics
If treatment is sought early the permanent effects of ANUG are minimal to none.
How to Prevent ANUG
The good news is that ANUG is preventable.
Good nutrition, adequate hydration and attention to oral hygiene, especially during times of stress are important.
Reducing stress as much as possible is also vital. Even in the midst of the hustle and bustle of exam-time, it is imperative to find some down time. Try going for a walk, meditating, heading to the gym, or hanging out with friends. Whatever works best for you.
To prevent the development of ANUG, it is also important to schedule regular checkups with your dentist. Be sure to book an appointment for cleaning and a checkup every six months.
When you visit your dentist regularly, we can proactively identify and treat potential problems before they have the chance to escalate. We can also give you advice on how to prevent the oral manifestations of stress and poor oral hygiene so you won’t have to worry about your oral health interfering with your success at university.