5 Ways Stress Affects Your Teeth and Gums

Stress and Oral Health

Stress and oral health have a stronger link than was previously imagined.  Stress is not something to dismiss lightly. Too much stress can have serious consequences for your teeth and gums.  Teeth grinding, canker sores, gum disease, TMJ disorder, and neglecting your oral hygiene are five of the ways stress can wreak havoc on your teeth and gums. Learn what you can do to avoid these pitfalls from the stresses of life. Our team at Family and Cosmetic Dentistry of the Rockies is here to help!


Stress and Oral Health:  Teeth Grinding

Teeth grinding has been linked to a few different triggers, stress being one of the bigger, more common triggers.  Stress can cause you to clench your teeth at night or slide them back and forth over each other.  Other triggers include misaligned teeth and jaws, and sleep apnea.  Teeth grinding (also called Bruxism) is a condition not to be ignored.  Teeth grinding can cause serious, chronic conditions if not treated.  Some of the symptoms of teeth grinding include:

  • Sleep disorders
  • Headaches
  • Jaw pain
  • Abnormal tooth wear
  • Broken or chipped teeth
  • TMJ disorder
  • Change in the appearance of your face

Our office can offer you tips to help you manage your stress and anxiety more effectively.  We can also make you a custom nightguard that you can wear when you sleep to help treat your symptoms and protect you from the damages of teeth grinding.


Stress and Oral Health:  Canker Sores

The exact cause of canker sores has not been determined but is linked to how you process stress and anxiety. Found to be more common in women, canker sores often surface during times of high stress. While no exact cause has been pinpointed, researchers at the Mayo Clinic have found the following possible causes for canker sores:

  • Minor mouth injuries
  • Brushing too hard
  • Sports accidents
  • Accidental cheek bites
  • Products (toothpastes or mouthwashes) that contain sodium lauryl sulfate
  • Food sensitivities (such as chocolate, strawberries, coffee, cheese, nuts, eggs, and/or spicy and acidic foods)
  • Vitamin B-12, zinc, folate (folic acid) or iron deficiencies
  • Allergic responses to certain mouth bacteria
  • Hormonal shifts
  • Emotional stress


Stress and Oral Health:  Gum Disease

Researchers at Tufts University are studying the link between gum disease and stress. They have shown that when the body is experiencing stress, its ability to manufacture immune cells to protect against bacteria is compromised. Stress handicaps your immune system which allows bacteria to thrive and inflammation to increase. The Academy of General Dentistry supports what Tufts’ researchers have found and made this statement: “Stress affects the immune system, which fights against the bacteria that causes periodontal disease, making a person more prone to gum infection.”


Stress and Oral Health:  TMJ Disorder

Stress and anxiety have also been found to be factors in Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ).  Stressful situations can trigger the overuse of jaw muscles and cause you to clench or grind your teeth–as was mentioned earlier.  Strenuous physical activities–either from athletics, recreation or work–can also cause stress that manifests with overuse of your TMJ joint.


Stress and Oral Health:  Oral Hygiene Neglect

One of the first things to go by the wayside when we are under significant stress is our self-care practices.  We neglect ourselves. We suffer from poor sleep which robs us of the energy necessary to complete even the simplest of tasks like brushing and flossing. Stress can also affect our nutrition choices.  Research has shown that stress prompts us to crave more sugary foods–foods that can wreak havoc on our oral health, especially if you are not giving your mouth the attention it needs with regular, quality oral hygiene practices.


Make a Plan to Identify and Deal with Your Stress

Choosing to be honest with yourself, and how you are handling stress, is one of the first steps towards making change.  When you are able to identify that you are under stress, the next step is to decide how to decrease the stress–where possible–and how to rid yourself of it in a healthy manner.  This is not something that you have to do on your own. Our friendly staff at Family and Cosmetic Dentistry of the Rockies can provide you with information to help you recognize and treat the stress you are under. We can also provide you with tools–like mouthguards–to help you protect your teeth during stressful periods and get better sleep.


Call for a Consultation Today

To learn more about how stress affects your teeth and gums, and to find out if your mouth is showing signs of stress-related wear and tear, call our office today.  We can conduct a comprehensive examination to find out if you are grinding or clenching your teeth and to check for signs of gum disease.  We can also discuss with you healthy ways to deal with stress and offer you tools to help safeguard your oral health while you work through the stress and anxiety you may currently be experiencing in your life. Schedule your free consultation today so you can get on the road to great oral health and healthcare.  Call our Fort Collins office today at (970) 223-8425 to set up your appointment. For your convenience, you can also reach us after regular business hours by submitting a contact or appointment request online using the form below.