The Effect of Stress on Oral Health

The Effect of Stress on Oral Health

Posted by SmileHere Family Dental

Oral Health

on Apr 17 2023, 07:03 AM

The Effect of Stress on Oral Health

Stress is a normal part of every person's life. Stress can be both good and bad, but too much of it can take a toll on a person's health. Stress can affect your physical health, but it can also affect your dental health.

An Introduction to Stress and Its Impact On the Body

The body's response to acute or chronic stress can impact your oral health in a number of ways. When the body is stressed, the sympathetic nervous system is activated and prepares the body to either fight or take flight. This reaction causes a release of adrenaline and cortisol into the bloodstream, causing a number of physiological reactions throughout the body. Increased blood pressure and heart rate put additional strain on the heart, making it work harder to pump blood to the vital organs. Blood is also diverted from the mouth and digestive tract to aid in digestion in emergency situations. As the body experiences stress, saliva production slows. Saliva acts as a natural defense mechanism to wash away food particles and reduce the effects of acid that can harm teeth enamel. Without adequate amounts of saliva present in the mouth, bacteria have the opportunity to flourish and further degrade oral health. 

Another side effect of stress on teeth is bruxism or the clenching of the jaw or grinding of the teeth. Teeth grinding is commonly associated with tension, stress, and anxiety; however, it can also occur during sleep as a sleep-related disorder known as nocturnal tooth grinding. During stressful times, many people clench their jaw during the day or grind their teeth at night without even realizing it. This puts a tremendous amount of pressure on teeth and can lead to a number of painful side effects, such as worn-down enamel, discomfort when chewing, headaches, and a sore jaw. Bruxism can also cause temporomandibular joint disorder, which occurs when the joints connecting the lower jaw to the skull become inflamed or damaged. If you experience the symptoms of stress or bruxism and are concerned about its impact on your oral health, talk to your dental care provider about how you can prevent or reduce the effects associated with it.

How to Reduce Stress to Improve Your Oral and Overall Health

When we experience stress, we react in our bodies the same way we would react to a physical threat. Our heart rate increases, our blood flow moves away from our core to the extremities, and our digestive system shuts down. When we're under this kind of physical stress, we have to take measures to counteract these effects to stay healthy – exercising and eating right are examples. In other words, once your body is under stress, you have to take action to bring yourself back to a healthy state.

When it comes to your oral health, the side effects of stress can affect your smile as well. When you're stressed, you're less likely to brush and floss your teeth or eat a healthy diet, both of which can negatively affect your teeth and gums. Your mouth is also prone to ulcers and other oral infections when your immune system is weakened by stress. This can make treatment for gum disease more difficult. In short, if you're dealing with chronic stress, you are putting your oral health at risk.

Fortunately, there are simple things you can do to combat the effects of stress on your oral health. Get plenty of sleep and exercise regularly, which can help combat both stress and obesity. Practice relaxation techniques like meditation to help you unwind after a stressful day. These steps can help you keep your mouth healthy whether you're feeling stressed or not.

If you wish to learn more about taking care of your oral health, schedule a consultation with our dental experts. You can call any of our offices in Livonia at (734) 425-7888 or Ann Arbor at (734) 888-8886 or book an appointment online. We're always happy to help our patients!

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29522 Six Mile Rd, Ste A, Livonia, MI 48152

Phone: (734) 425-7888


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3250 Plymouth Rd, Ste 102, Ann Arbor, MI 48105

Phone: (734) 888-8886


  • MON - TUE: 9:00 am - 6:00 pm
  • WED - THU: Closed
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  • SAT: 9:00 am - 3:00 pm
  • SUN: Closed
Contact Us