stress brain mouth connections by dr felix liao
Dr. Liao spoke at the Stress-Less Living Expo on the topic of Stress-Mouth Connections and Solutions.

He cited studies linking stress-mood-sleep, and his own cases on head-neck-jaw pain, teeth grinding, sleep-related mood and breathing disorders.

“Lessons from these adults cases can help children avoid repeating their parent’s medical-dental troubles”, says Dr. Liao. “The best time to fix malocclusion and teeth grinding is before age 10.”

Highlights of the lecture include:

  • The mouth is a major outlet of stress with eating, snapping, arguing, crying, or swallowing your feelings.
  • Pain, fatigue, and depression are major stress symptoms according to a Prevention Magazine survey.
  • People with sleep troubles are more likely to develop mood disorders, says the Director of Harvard Sleep Health Centers
    Insomnia carries a 20 X risk for anxiety, and 10X risk for depression.
  • 75% of unhappy adolescents report not sleeping enough: National Sleep Foundation
  • People with depression have 5X the likelihood for Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA): National Sleep Foundation.
  • The Obstruction in sleep apnea can come from nasal blockage, throat blockage by the throat like a 6 foot tiger in a 3 foot cage, or both.

Dr. Liao also points out these Brain-Mouth connections:

stress brain mouth connections by dr felix liao

Inflamed gums can impair your brain.

  • The brain runs on blood sugar from food, and oxygen from open airway, and the mouth is involved in both.
  • Blood sugar at Pre-diabetes level (85-110) shrinks the brain, according to neurologist David Perlmutter, author of Grain Brain
  • Death from stroke or heart attack goes up 40% if fasting blood sugar is over 86 mg/dl, according to a study on a 22-year follow-up of healthy non-diabetic men: Diabetes Care. 1999 Jan;22(1):45-9.
  • Obstructive Sleep apnea may be linked to Alzheimer’s Brain
  • Malocclusion is linked to Obstructive Sleep Apnea: Miyao E, Intern Med. 2008;47(18):1573-8.
  • Gum disease and Alzheimer’s are linked. “Periodontal inflammation may affect cognition.” Kamer, et. al, J Alzheimers Dis. 2012;28(3):613-24.
  • Herpes Virus Type 1 (HSV1) is “a significant etiological factor in Alzheimer’s: Itzhaki R, et al. J Alzheimers Dis. 2008 May;13(4):393-405
  • HSV1 is “a bigger risk factor than Alzheimer’s gene, with a hazard ratio of 2.55.”: Letenneur L, et al. PLoS One. 2008; 3(11):e3637

Important Points:

stress brain mouth connections by dr felix liao

  • The mouth plays a big part in stress, and stress eating can ruin blood sugar control and shrinks your brain over time.
  • Poor or insufficient sleep contributes to mood disorders and interpersonal stress
  • Teeth grinding interferes with deep sleep which is necessary for memory consolidation and repair of daily wear and tear
  • A Gluten-Free diet may help prevent Alzheimers: according to Dr. David Perlmutter’s book, Grain Brain. “The time to fix the roof is when the sun is shining”, says Perlmutter.
  • A good way to assess your sleep is Epworth Sleepiness Scale. Another useful tool is the Holistic Mouth Score for checking if your mouth and teeth are under stress.

“Eating a non-inflammatory diet and keeping the airway open with oral appliances during sleep can help maintain your brain and mood”, says Dr. Liao.

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