Stress And Dental Health - How Your Mouth Can Reveal All

Stress and dental health are closely linked. In this article we discuss several ways not being ‘okay’ can show up in your mouth.

Stress and dental health are closely linked. In this article we discuss several ways not being ‘okay’ can show up in your mouth.

“Good thanks,” is the most common response received when dentists ask their patients how they are. Granted, some may be feeling a little bit vulnerable, have places to be, or are mindful that they’re in the room for a dental check-up and not a psychology appointment - however dentists will always take this answer with a grain of salt. They know that the real truth will be revealed as soon as patients ‘open wide’. The mouth, teeth and gums often ‘keep score’...

In this piece we’ll discuss how signs of stress and dental health are linked, per the dental conditions we see in clinics every day.

Grinding - not the work kind - the bruxism kind

When stressed many patients will often clench their jaws and grind their teeth both when they’re awake and in their sleep. This stress response sees the teeth ‘wear’ away through chipping, and by damaging the tooth enamel. In worst case scenarios patients can actually weaken their teeth (from grinding so much) that they actually fall out.

Remember: ‘grinning and bearing it’ and ‘gritting one’s teeth’ are never good ways of dealing with stress.

Poor choices today = tooth decay tomorrow

‘Comfort eating’ is a popularised term you’re likely familiar with. When we experience significant or chronic stress sometimes we’ll choose the quick, easy and most sugary choice, rather than the healthy one, for the short-term ‘feel-good’ fix. For example - ice-cream over an apple, alcohol over water. A pattern of moderating our stress levels with sugary foods can result in tooth decay given they (processed and sugary foods) are essentially ‘bad’ for our teeth, increase the risk of cavities, and, the inflammation that these foods cause to the rest of our body, also causes our mouth to purge its protective minerals. Bad food - bad choice - bad oral health.

Gum disease and the slippery, linking slope

In addition to making poor nutrition choices when we’re stressed, some people might also, or alternatively, fall into the behavioural pattern of neglect. For example, when you’re stressed all you might wish to do (or feel that you can manage) is sleep, and therefore you don’t brush and floss your teeth, you cancel or omit dentist appointments, and generally not take care of yourself, leading to poor oral hygiene. In addition to neglect, stress can also result in inflamed gums, and inflamed gums can lead to gum disease,

which has been linked to Alzheimer's, heart disease and cancer, amongst other serious illnesses.

Similarly, research has found that stress and gum disease have a positive relationship with a very negative result i.e. the more stressed you are, the more severe your gum disease is likely to be.

 Stress and anxiety and hormones

Stress will see the body release hormones that actually dry up saliva. Without saliva your oral health will suffer - as saliva’s main purpose is to flush away bad bacteria that cause cavities and tooth decay (as well as helping your tongue to taste food and drink). In a double-edged sword - some anxiety and depression medications have been found to produce a dry mouth - so drink that water and wash away the ‘bad stuff’.

Other dental issues caused by stress

When you’re under chronic stress your body’s ability to fight off infection (i.e. your immune system) plummets, so if you’ve had any recent work done on your teeth and gums, you might find they’re not recovering quickly, at all, or worse - they’re infected. Similarly, stress can often see you acquire mouth ulcers, for that same reason - a poorly functioning immune system.

To end, your dentist will always do their best to manage and maintain your oral health. Whilst they can treat the symptoms of stress, getting back to basics - like maintaining dental hygiene with brushing and flossing, keeping dental appointments, and making good food choices - will help you to have the energy, condition and physiology needed to get through those challenging times. And remember, your GP is always your first port of call if you are experiencing chronic or high levels of stress.


Email: [email protected]

Phone: 03 8905 3999

Contact Person: Dr. Daniella Kotzen

City: 177 Thames Promenade, Chelsea Heights VIC 3196, Australia
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The information in this article is for educational purposes only and should not replace professional dental or medical advice. Always consult with a qualified healthcare provider regarding any dental or medical concerns. The content does not endorse specific treatments or practices. Individual experiences may vary. Changes in research may impact the accuracy of the information provided. Hello Dental's contact details are shared for reference only, and engagement is at the reader's discretion. The author and Hello Dental are not liable for any consequences from using this information.

This content was first published by KISS PR Brand Story. Read here >> Stress And Dental Health - How Your Mouth Can Reveal All

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