Can Stress Affect my Dental Health?

Home 9 General Dentistry 9 Can Stress Affect my Dental Health?
There are always a lot of reasons to be stressed out, especially in recent years. We were often isolated from friends and family. We might have been seriously sick and/or had financial problems. We could not travel, eat, or shop where and when we wanted or only with restrictions. Things we needed or wanted often were hard to get.

Many of us may have reacted by indulging ourselves in eating sweets or carbs, drinking more alcohol, and smoking. Without a gym to go to, we may have cut back on exercise. Doctors and dentists were not always available when we wanted to see them. Even before the pandemic, a third of Americans did not see a dentist twice a year, which is the recommended frequency.


Stress can also lead to depression and anxiety. According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, two-thirds of those with clinical depression have tooth decay and reported fair to poor oral health. It’s hard to be dedicated to brushing and flossing when one is down.

Some anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications also dry up saliva, which plays a vital role in naturally cleaning the surfaces of the teeth in our mouths and also in fighting certain bacteria. Stress also lowers the immune system’s ability to fight infections of all kinds. It’s no wonder that stress can cause the appearance of cold sores and canker sores.


Stress causes the release of hormones which also increase inflammation throughout the body and trigger tense muscles. This can lead to issues in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), the hinges that connect the lower jaw to the skull (you can feel these if you put your fingers just in front of your earlobes and open and close your mouth). If the TMJ is dysfunctional or malfunctioning, it can cause pain on the face, neck, and shoulders and/or misalign the bite.


Tension in the jaw can also cause someone to grind their teeth while asleep, which can severely damage them by wearing them down or even cracking them; it can also lead to excessive teeth movement and misalignment. If the teeth are damaged a lot, crowns may be needed to restore them and protect them from further damage. At the very least a personalized nightguard can be created to wear while sleeping to prevent further harm.

As you probably know, poor oral health significantly raises the risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.

If you have not had a full dental exam in the past six months, call Soothing Dental today to set an appointment.