No one would disagree that stress or anxiety is no fun; no one wants to go through that. Stress is a thing in life we all go through at some point. But what adds insult to injury is the impact of stress effects on oral health.

There are many ways stress and dental health are connected. The signs are there when you know what to look for. They can also have a negative impact on each other and can get even worse if you don’t try and keep them in check.

What do stress and oral health have to do with one another? Stress and anxiety can be detected within your mouth. Anxiety is bad enough but can be worse because it can affect your oral health as well. It can cause canker sores, dry mouth, gum disease, temporomandibular joint dysfunction, also known as TMJ, or grinding, which can leave you with headaches, jaw pain, tooth pain, or dental problems

What Is Oral Anxiety?

The woman scaring from dental instrument

Oral anxiety is the stress effects on oral health. Stress or anxiety can impact your oral health; when you are stressed, your immune system is compromised, and while the cause of canker sores is not proven, there is some correlation or higher likelihood between lowered immune and those nasty painful canker sores.

Signs Stress and Anxiety Are Affecting Your Oral Health

  • Dry mouth- when you are stressed, you may develop dry mouth, sometimes from very simple reasons like not drinking enough or breathing with your mouth open, or sleeping with it open.
  • Teeth grinding- a common reaction to stress is clench or grinding your teeth, and you may not even be aware of doing it. This can cause toothache or TMJ. It is recommended to try and become conscious of opening your jaw and being aware of if your jaw is closed or leaving a tiny gap between your upper and lower teeth. At night try wearing a nightguard to help with grinding.
  • TMJ disorder- Temporomandibular joint problems are when the joints that you use to move your jaw become swollen or stiff. This can leave you with pain and a clicking or popping sound when trying to use your jaw. This is caused by clenching and or grinding your teeth. It is best to be careful what you eat is not difficult to chew and practice unclenching your jaw while trying meditation to combat TMJ. Sometimes anti-anxiety medication can help but consult with your doctors about this.
  • Gum Disease- you want to watch out for gum disease when going through a period of prolonged stress or anxiety. Stress can make it difficult for your body’s immune system to protect itself from infections. Stress and gum disease can lead to weakened teeth, loose teeth, and bleeding.

Relationship Between Stress and Oral Health?

The girl is biting her nail

Your immune system is compromised when going through stress, the chemicals in your body become unbalanced and harmful to you. Your sleep is often affected, which makes matters worse. Not to mention when you’re are going through a tough time, personal hygiene patterns can become erratic, and taking care of your teeth can be low on the priority list.

How Does Stress Affect Your Lymph?

Inflammation of woman throat lymph nodes

Lymph nodes may swell from stress as they are a part of your immune system and work with your body to fight infection. They filter harmful substances and store white blood cells. When swollen, they can often be felt as little bumps on the side of your neck, and they can become tender or painful when chewing or turning your neck. If they become stiff or do not reduce in size after a few weeks, you should contact your doctor.

Can Stress Cause Mouth Sores?

You may be susceptible to sores in your mouth when under prolonged stress called canker sores. These are usually small round spots with a white or grey look to them, and they can cause very sharp pain. It is best to avoid very acidic or spicy food when you get them. You can also get over the counter medicine that numbs them easing the pain. They usually last between a week or two.

Can Stress Cause Gum Pain?

Gum pain in annoying woman

Yes, stress can cause painful gums from the susceptibility to canker sores, teeth grinding, and risk of gum disease. You are also at risk of hurting your gums when you are under a lot of stress or anxiety if you are a Nail-biter. Germ from your nails can lead to infections either in your mouth, body, or damage from the nails can hurt your gums, and canker sores are believed to also be caused by a damaged or weakened spot in the gum.

Burning mouth syndrome can be caused by stress. This causes pain and damage to your gums and teeth. It can feel like your mouth is burning like you just drank a really hot drink along with dry mouth and a change in taste.

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