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How Does Stress Affect Dental Health?

21 Jun, 2024 dental-care

Stressed woman - can it affect dental health?

Maintaining good dental health involves more than just brushing your teeth and flossing; it also includes what you eat, how you behave and how you live your life. 

More than that, stress can wreak havoc on your dental health, causing problems like inflammation of the gums, teeth grinding and much more. 

Surprising Ways Stress Can Impact Dental Health

In addition to aggravating symptoms like jaw discomfort, trouble chewing and a clicking sound while moving the jaw, stress can exacerbate TMJ issues, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). But this isn't the only way that stress affects your oral health. 

Teeth Grinding

One of the main causes of bruxism, or teeth grinding, is chronic stress. Severe dental problems, including tooth destruction and jaw discomfort, can result from this disorder, which affects as many as 31% of people

Approximately 20% to 50% of those who have bruxism also have a family history of the disorder. Children, in particular, are more likely to have intermittent bruxism. 

Dry Mouth

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research reports that xerostomia, or dry mouth, may occur when there is a decrease in saliva production due to stress. And since there is less saliva if you have dry mouth, the risk of dental cavities and oral infections increases with this condition.

Anxious woman.


Worsening of Gum Disease

Stress can make periodontal disease worse by lowering the body's defenses against infections, which in turn increases the likelihood and intensity of gum disease, according to the American Academy of Periodontology. 

Chronic stress can also lead to unhealthy behaviors like poor oral hygiene and increased consumption of sugary foods, further exacerbating the risk of gum disease.

Canker Sores

The immune system becomes less effective in fighting off infections when the body is under stress, which may lead to the development of canker sores. 

Furthermore, for some people, stress might lead to hormonal shifts that bring on canker sore breakouts. 

Another risk factor for canker sores is stress-related behaviors like jaw clenching or teeth grinding, which can physically irritate the mouth.

How to Manage Stress and Maintain Good Oral Health

You can lessen the detrimental effects of stress on your dental health by practicing relaxation methods like deep breathing, meditation or mindfulness. Yoga and vigorous walking, when practiced regularly, can also lower stress hormones and improve your oral health.

An excellent way to help the immune system while also building resistance to stress is to eat a balanced diet that is high in fruits, vegetables, and lean meats. 

Last but not least, getting enough sleep on a regular basis can make a big difference in how stressed you are and in your overall dental health. 

Visit Your Tempe Dentist Regularly

If you suffer from stress-related behaviors like teeth grinding, your dentist can help you develop a plan to stop the damage and keep your teeth healthy

Seeing a dentist regularly can also help reduce the negative impact of stress on your oral health by catching issues like gum disease and tooth grinding in their early stages. 

Plus, by removing plaque accumulation, professional dental cleanings lessen the likelihood of stress-related gum inflammation and periodontal disease. 


Problems with gum disease, teeth grinding, dry mouth, canker sores and other oral health issues can get much worse if you're stressed. 

Fortunately, you can successfully manage stress by engaging in relaxation techniques, exercising regularly, eating a balanced diet, and scheduling regular dental checkups. This will help you maintain good oral health and protect you from the negative effects of stress.