Stress Anxiety Oral Health

It can be difficult for most people to identify how daily stress can impact their overall health. However, during routine dental exams and cleanings, your dentist is often the first person to detect the many ways stress can impact the body visibly.

Learn the many indications that stress is causing damage to your smile, as well as what you can do to help protect your teeth and gums.

Stress-Related Oral Health Issues

Everyone manages stress in their unique way; however, when your methods lead to dental issues, you may need to re-think your stress management techniques. Teeth grinding is the most commonly found acute physical response to stress, but plenty of others can trigger stress, including:

  • Nail-biting
  • Canker sores
  • Bruxism or teeth grinding
  • Gum disease
  • TMJ
  • Dry Mouth


While there are no clear reasons for nail-biting, various factors can increase the habit’s likeliness. For many, nail-biting is an automatic habit that happens without even thinking about it. Nail-biting isn’t considered a dangerous habit; however, it can compromise your overall health with consequences like

  • Germs can be transferred from your nails to your mouth, leading to infections
  • Bacteria or viruses found on your hands can be transmitted to the rest of your body
  • Warts can spread from your hands to your mouth

Canker Sores

It’s not well understood why people get canker sores. They develop on the inside of the mouth and on the cheeks, lips, tongue, and gums. While they are not contagious like a cold sore, the tingling pain can be unpleasant. Stress or anxiety are thought to be the top two contributing factors to canker sores’ development. Other things can increase your risk, including fatigue and biting the inside of your cheek or lip.

If you’ve noticed that stress or anxiety seems to trigger the development of canker sores for you, learning how to manage your stress could help you avoid a flare-up.

Bruxism or Teeth Grinding

Teeth grinding has been directly linked with a few triggers, including stress being the most common contributing factor. Stress can cause you to clench your teeth at night or “teeth tap” in stressful moments throughout the day. Other bruxism triggers include misaligned teeth and jaw misalignment, and sleep apnea. Bruxism is a common condition; however, you should not ignore it. Left untreated, grinding can lead to severe and chronic conditions.

The most commonly seen 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

Gum Disease

There is a definitive link between the development of gum disease and stress. When the body is experiencing stress, its ability to manufacture immune cells to protect against bacteria is reduced and compromised. Stress dramatically affects your immune system, allowing bacteria to thrive and increase inflammation. If you are a person prone to gum disease, you may look to factors in your life that cause you strain and find ways of managing your stress.

TMJ Disorder

Stress and anxiety are common factors in patients suffering from Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ). Stressful situations can be a trigger for the overuse of the jaw muscles. Clenching or grinding the teeth put exponential pressure on the teeth and muscles in the jaw, which leads to the overuse of your TMJ joint.

Dry Mouth

Struggling with a dry mouth is common to experience during an irritating time. When your salivary glands don’t produce enough saliva, your mouth can feel sticky and dirty. Anxiety and stress can quickly lead to dry mouth, which has the potential to be incredibly damaging for your teeth. The condition starts with a reduction of saliva, which helps to remineralize teeth against bacteria. As a result, an increase in plaque or cavities can occur.

Preventing Stress-Induced Dental Issues

There are many useful options for managing and preventing the occurrence of stress-induced dental issues. Some simple ways that can help reduce not only the effects of stress on your teeth but also lower your overall stress levels include:

  • Practicing stress-reducing activities like yoga and meditation to calm the body and mind.
  • Wear a dental guard at night to reduce potential damage from teeth grinding.
  • Get plenty of sleep.
  • Limit caffeine and alcohol intake.
  • Eat a healthy and balanced diet.

For more ways to avoid dental issues brought on by stress, contact Hoffman Dental Care.