Links Between Stress and Oral Health

A large number of scientific papers on the subject from between 1990 and 2006 were reviewed.
In 57% of the papers a clear link was found between stress and associated conditions – anxiety and depression – and periodontal disease.
Periodontal disease is an advanced stage of gum disease whereby the gum and bone is being eroded and the patient is at significant risk of teeth becoming loose.
There is strong evidence that stress can also affect someone’s oral health.

Stress and Bad Dental Hygiene

People suffering from stress also have a higher tendency to do things that are suboptimal for their oral health.

A person with extreme stress might skip brushing their teeth, or skip flossing, or at best give their teeth a cursory brush.

A person who is stressed might grind their teeth, leading to wear on the enamel and teeth sensitivity. They might snack on unhealthy treats, especially those high in sugar.

Teeth Grinding

Gum disease might be the most worrying oral health issue to potentially come from stress, but there are also short term problems such as cold sores, oral infections and aching jaws which need to be addressed.

Stress that leads to teeth grinding (also known as bruxism) can be a factor in limiting quality sleep at night, again a side effect that only serves to propel the “stress cycle”.

Fortunately, teeth grinding can be treated through actions taken at home coupled with help from a dental professional.

The symptoms of teeth grinding such as jaw pain, morning headaches and increased teeth sensitivity can be helped by eating softer foods and massaging the affected areas.

A longer-term solution can then be identified by examining the area and creating a bespoke mouth guard, this prevents the grinding while still being comfortable enough to not reduce the quality of sleep.

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