How Does Stress Affect Oral Health?

How Does Stress Affect Oral Health?

Stress is a normal part of life. However, when stress becomes overwhelming, it can have a negative impact on your oral health. Stress impacts many parts of your life. It can cause sleepless nights, headaches, and pain in your jaw. Stress can also increase your risk of gum disease.

Common Causes of Stress

There are many things that can cause stress in our lives, and many of them are unavoidable. However, there are things you can do to help reduce your stress levels. These include getting enough sleep each night, staying hydrated with plenty of water every day, exercising regularly, eating a well-balanced diet, and getting regular checkups and cleanings with your Boise dentist. These will help keep your teeth clean, which will keep your oral health in its best condition. It will also help prevent cavities and gum disease caused by excess plaque buildup on your teeth. Finally, it will prevent you from feeling the aches and pains that come with tooth decay or an infection that has gone untreated for too long. Having good oral health means fewer trips to the dentist in Boise, Idaho for problems that are easily preventable with good home care!

Effects of Stress on Oral Health

Stress can have a significant impact on oral health, contributing to various dental problems and exacerbating existing conditions. Some of the effects of stress on oral health include:

  • Teeth Grinding (Bruxism):Stress and anxiety can lead to teeth grinding or clenching, a condition known as bruxism. Chronic bruxism can cause wear and damage to the teeth, leading to tooth sensitivity, fractures, and even tooth loss. It can also strain the jaw muscles and temporomandibular joints (TMJ), resulting in jaw pain, headaches, and TMJ disorders.
  • Gum Disease: Stress weakens the body's immune system and makes individuals more susceptible to infections, including gum disease (periodontal disease). Chronic stress can impair the body's ability to fight off bacteria in the mouth, leading to inflammation of the gums, gum recession, and periodontal pocket formation. If left untreated, gum disease can progress to more severe stages and increase the risk of tooth loss.
  • Dry Mouth (Xerostomia):Stress can reduce saliva production, leading to dry mouth or xerostomia. Saliva plays a crucial role in maintaining oral health by rinsing away food particles, neutralizing acids, and protecting the teeth against decay. Without adequate saliva flow, individuals may experience discomfort, difficulty chewing and swallowing, bad breath, and an increased risk of cavities and oral infections.
  • Canker Sores and Cold Sores:Stress can trigger the recurrence of canker sores (aphthous ulcers) and cold sores (oral herpes). These painful oral lesions often appear during periods of increased stress or emotional tension. While canker sores are not contagious and typically heal on their own, cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus and may require antiviral medication for treatment.
  • Dental Neglect:High levels of stress may lead to neglect of oral hygiene habits such as brushing, flossing, and regular dental checkups. Individuals experiencing stress may be more likely to engage in unhealthy behaviors such as consuming sugary or acidic foods, smoking, or excessive alcohol consumption, all of which can negatively impact oral health.
  • Tooth Decay:Stress-induced changes in diet, oral hygiene habits, and saliva flow can increase the risk of tooth decay. Poor dietary choices, such as opting for sugary or high-carbohydrate comfort foods, can promote the growth of cavity-causing bacteria in the mouth. Additionally, decreased saliva flow can impair the remineralization process and leave the teeth more vulnerable to acid erosion and decay.
  • Oral Health-Related Habits:Stress may manifest in oral health-related habits such as nail-biting, lip-biting, or chewing on objects like pens or pencils. These habits can exert excessive pressure on the teeth and soft tissues of the mouth, leading to tooth wear, chipped teeth, and tissue damage.

To mitigate the effects of stress on oral health, individuals can practice stress-management techniques such as relaxation exercises, deep breathing, meditation, physical activity, and seeking support from friends, family, or mental health professionals. Additionally, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including a balanced diet, regular exercise, adequate sleep, and proper oral hygiene, can help support overall well-being and reduce the impact of stress on oral health. If stress-related dental problems arise, it's essential to consult with our dentist in 83704 for appropriate evaluation and treatment. Call us to learn more.

How to Manage Stress

When we’re stressed, our whole body goes into fight-or-flight mode. Our heart rate rises, breathing quickens and blood pressure rises. This stress response is fueled by the release of adrenaline and other hormones that prepare our body for action. While this response helps us survive dangerous situations by boosting strength and speed, it can be damaging to the body when constantly activated.

When you’re feeling stressed, your body is already prepping for the fight-or-flight response. If you’re already experiencing the effects of this response from the environment around you, then your body isn’t going to respond well to any additional stressors. This is why it’s especially important to practice relaxation techniques so that you won’t be dealing with the constant effects of fight-or-flight.

It’s also helpful to avoid high-stress environments whenever possible. When possible, remove yourself from stressful situations. Practice deep breathing without holding your breath for long periods of time. Take some time out of your day to sit down and read a book or watch your favorite movie. Practicing self-care is a way to show your body that you appreciate all it does for you and that you’re prioritizing your well-being.

To find out more about the dental services offered at Ustick Dental Office, call (208) 375-8720 or schedule an online consultation. You can also visit the dentist in Boise, ID, at 9733, W Ustick Rd, Boise, ID 83704.

Ustick Dental Office

Phone: (208) 375-8720



9733 W Ustick Rd, Boise, ID 83704

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Working Hours

  • Monday: 7:30 am - 5:00 pm
  • Tuesday: 7:30 am - 5:00 pm
  • Wednesday: 7:30 am - 5:00 pm
  • Thursday: 7:30 am - 6:00 pm
  • Friday: 7:30 am - 2:00 pm
  • Saturday: Closed
  • Sunday: Closed