Did you know that your oral health can be affected by stress? Yes, a headache, a stomachache and apprehensions signifies stress. But there is more to it this. Stress can cause quite a bit of problems on your teeth, gums and mouth. Your overall oral health is being affected by stress! And the affects you will be encountering are not pleasant at all.

Here are 5 oral conditions that can develop or get worsen with stress.

  1. Mouth Sores

    Aphthous ulcer
    canker Sore or Aphthous ulcer

Stress can bring about two types of mouth sores, the canker sores and the cold sores. Canker sores are small ulcers in the mouth with white, often times grayish, base and may have a reddish border. These sometimes can be solo, or in pairs and even more in some cases.

The cause of canker sores are really not determined at the moment. It can be a virus, bacteria or immune system problem. One thing is for sure though and that is if you are stressed there is a greater chance of developing this condition. It is not contagious, but it is very painful and it can go on for a couple of weeks  before it disappears. Over the counter topical anesthetics are the only way to help you deal with the discomforts you will feel. Don’t eat foods that may irritate it more like spicy foods, citrus fruits, tomatoes or other foods that have high acid compound.

Unlike canker sores with unknown origin, cold sores, on the other hand, are caused by a virus called herpes

Herpes or cold sore
Cold Sore or Herpes

simplex. These are contagious. Cold sores are blisters filled with fluid that often appear on the areas surrounding your lips, on your gums, under nose and sometimes on the chin. Any emotional upsets may lead to an outbreak for this condition.

What cold sores have in common with canker sores is that it will heal within 10-14 days. There are antiviral drugs prescribed by doctors used to treat cold sores. It is best to consult a dentist or a doctor as soon as you notice them forming on the areas mentioned above so that it will be treated right away and prevent an outbreak.

  1. Teeth Grinding

Bruxism, commonly known as teeth grinding, and clenching are one of the common problems that stress can cause. These actions happen without you knowing it. Often times it is done at night during sleep, but it can also happen during the day. This might not sound so alarming, but if you grind or clench your teeth unconsciously already, stress can worsen it, making it more frequent. Teeth grinding and clenching cause problems with the jaw joint called TMJ (temporomandibular joint) where your lower jaw and skull meet, just in front of your ear. One of the solutions doctors recommends for teeth grinding or clenching is an appliance called night guard that helps to minimize grinding.

3.      Oral Hygiene Neglect

As your mood is being affected by extreme stress, this might cause you to skip the usual brushing and flossing. Your oral health can truly suffer as you begin to neglect your oral hygiene regimen, brushing and flossing your teeth and gums. Gum disease can occur if you skip daily oral routine. If you already have gingivitis or periodontitis, then it will get worse.

The best way to deal with this is to tell yourself all the time to eat well and perform all necessary routine to ensure your oral health is in good condition. Exercise to increase your energy levels. This will lessen stress tremendously. Not to mention that this will also boost the immune system that is good for your overall health, not to mention your oral health too.

4.      Cavities

Stress can also cause you to eat foods not healthy for your mouth, gums and teeth like junk foods (mainly snacks containing sugars) and soft drinks. These kinds of foods can accelerate tooth decay.

 5.      Gum Disease

A study evaluated on people who are taking care of love ones with conditions such as dementia and are always under strenuous stress shows that these people can have more dental plaque than normal.

Stress, especially when experience in a long period of time, can lead to gingivitis that will soon lead to a more serious gum infection (periodontal disease, which will cause bone loss). This is not to mention that long term stress can lead to depression.

Unfortunately, there is no magic formula to heal depression. The best way to deal with this is for you to learn how to cope with it by exercising and eating healthy. By doing so, you will reduce your chances of developing gum disease.

Brush your teeth twice or three times a day with a soft bristles toothbrush and floss at least once a day. Using antibacterial rinses with also help in reducing the bacteria that can cause plaque. Be more aware with your oral hygiene, eat healthy foods and visit the dentist regularly.

Please call our office with any questions you may have or if you would like to make an appointment. (323) 771-7254.

By Ladan Zinati


  1. Debbie Boulier
    November 28, 2012

    Very good article, I know grinding your teeth can be a problem too. I have that habit and have to wear a night guard at night to protect my teeth.

    • admin
      November 28, 2012

      Yes, grinding is very common, especially at night. As long as you wear your night guard, you will be fine. You won’t damage your teeth.

  2. Lisa P.
    January 4, 2013

    I’ve always ground my teeth together at night, and with getting older and alot more stressed out these last few years, it’s really turned into a major problem!!!! I actually wake myself up sometimes from grinding my teeth together so hard, and by the time morning comes around…. I’m left with one painful cracking jaw!!!!

    • admin
      January 6, 2013

      Lisa, you should ask your dentist about wearing a night guard.

  3. Selamat
    January 28, 2013

    It is so amazing to know the positive correlation between stress and oral health. I sometimes grind my teeth in the night while I get through stressful context. You have enlightened me. It is a very informing article. Thanks.

    • admin
      January 30, 2013

      You are very welcome Selamat.

  4. Ana
    February 14, 2013

    You’re right about mouth sores. I get those more when I’m stressed; they’re so painful.

    • admin
      February 15, 2013

      Yes, they actually are very painful!

  5. John Taylor
    April 6, 2013

    I thought it was interesting how exercising and eating right is linked to good overall health but it’s funny that they mentioned it’ll also prevent gum disease! Of course brushing and flossing will prevent that also as it mentions, even if you don’t exercise and weigh 500 pounds.

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