Friday, August 9, 2013


Ah is a common complaint, but stress and its effects on your mouth and oral health can be profound. Certainly, almost everyone you know will tell you that they are living with some sort of stress, or even multiple sources of it. Just think of the issues in our daily lives that can lead to stress. We have work pressures, financial issues, family related concerns, health problems, and so many other dilemmas that lead us to say we are "feeling stressed".

Interestingly enough, one of the first places where the effects of uninterrupted bouts of stress really show up is inside the mouth. From the unconscious grinding of the teeth to the chemical imbalances that lead to painful sores and even to gum disease, stress and its effects on your mouth and oral health can be enormous.

While the occurrence of "bruxism", or grinding of the teeth, may seem like a pretty standard reaction to stress or strain, its results can lead to very serious problems. For instance, whether you are someone who clenches their teeth during the day or who gnashes their teeth as they sleep, it results in a long list of symptoms. 

• Experience head, neck, and jaw pain from the clenching and pressure
• Cause micro-fractures, uneven wearing, and serious decay in the teeth and gums;
• Break teeth, wear teeth unevenly, and break fillings or crowns with the pressure
• Experience ear pain related to the clenching
• End up with TMJ, problems with the "temporomandibular joint"

Keep in mind that many people also see such conditions worsen as they grind their teeth because it interrupts their sleep and causes noticeable pain too.

One of the more severe issues connected with stress and teeth grinding is the appearance of gum disease. This can certainly be the result of long periods of pressure and the compromising in gum stability that this causes, but prolonged stress also floods the body with hormones and compounds that have an immediate impact on the teeth.

Several studies and surveys discovered that stress and its effects on your mouth and oral health included higher incidences of periodontal (gum) disease, and canker sores. What is so interesting is that many people were living with stress and feeling depressed from it. This is a common result because of the hormonal imbalances high levels of stress create. This depression brought on periods of poor oral hygiene and increased plaque production. Even over a short duration the studies demonstrated that higher rates of decay and the resulting gum disease were very common.

Perhaps one of the most upsetting of the results of stress on the oral health is canker sores. Painful, unpleasant, and seemingly uncontrollable, these can remain in the mouth for up to two weeks. There are many effective over the counter treatments, and they usually help to reduce the sores quickly.

Clearly, it is important to reduce stress levels to protect oral health. Some of the best techniques include exercise, meditation, massage for the head and neck, facial exercises that cause deep relaxation, and a healthy diet that protects the condition of the teeth as well as the body.