Stress can be defined as a state of tension triggered by difficult or tough situations. It is known to have a great impact on our physical health. Stress (or to be more specific “distress”) is part of life and it is almost impossible to get rid of it entirely. However, lowering stress levels is important to avoid irreversible consequences on our overall body health, and more specifically, our oral health.
It is known that people who are subject to a high level of daily stress are statistically less attentive to their overall health. They are usually less likely to exercise, more likely to use alcohol tobacco or any other drugs, which simply increase tensions and keep their body under greater strain. And oral health is no exception.
How Stress Puts a Strain on Your Oral Health
There are many ways in which stressful situations can affect our oral health. Teeth grinding, gum disease, dry mouth and even tooth decay can result from stress, depression or anxiety. In times of stressful events, we might feel so disturbed that even oral hygiene can be completely overlooked.
BRUXISM. Teeth Grinding or Bruxism has been proven to be more severe during periods of stress or anxiety. Teeth grinding or clenching usually happens at night, so we might not realize the pressure damage caused on our teeth. This grinding severely damages our teeth structure, our teeth enamel and can lead to sore jaw and strong facial pain.
GUM DISEASE. According to a review from the Journal of Periodontology (JOP) published in 2007, there seems to be a strong relationship between stress and periodontal disease. Researchers have established that stress, anxiety, depression and loneliness play a tremendous role in gum disease. When we are under stress we produce the stress hormone Cortisol (known more formally as hydrocortisone) which seems to play a role in damaging gums and bone tissue resulting in potential tooth loss.
DRY MOUTH. Dry mouth can also be caused by stress or come up as a side effect of medicine used for treating stress disorders. Saliva is what keeps our mouths clean and free from bacteria. Without it, our mouth is much more likely to develop germs and we have higher chances to suffer from tooth decay. Also, tooth decay may increase during stressful times due to lack of hygiene and oral care.
At times it might seem terribly difficult or even impossible to find a way out of stress. But as the saying goes, while there’s life, there’s hope. Dealing with stress will help a lot to keep your mind positive and your body healthy. At our office we believe that reducing stress levels is the first step to providing our patients with optimal care within the approach of whole body health.
If you want to learn more about the relation between stress and oral health feel free to email or call Rohrer Dental Wellness Center at