The connection between stress and dental health

Article Author

Author: Maja Mesaroš Ferenac , DMD


The link between stress and disease has been a topic of debate and discussion since the early 20th century, and as the years have passed, more and more people have often investigated and studied the correlation between stress and oral health.

What has emerged through studies and research over time?

Although most microorganisms are good and help maintain oral health, under the influence of chronic stress the body’s immune system is suppressed, causing a decrease in white blood cells, which help fight infections in the oral cavity.

Many other factors caused by stress, such as taking medications, lack of sleep, and the like, can also have a negative impact that manifests itself on the oral cavity and teeth in a variety of ways.

Bruxism and stress: causes and symptoms 

Stress can lead to increased tension in the jaw muscles, which causes teeth grinding and thus abrasion of tooth enamel, which can lead to tooth sensitivity and even tooth breakage. We have discussed this in more detail here.

Stress and teeth: what are the main stress-related problems

Stress can lead to changes in saliva production, reducing its protection against tooth decay because it reduces saliva’s ability to neutralize the acids that cause tooth decay.

Stress generally reduces the body’s resistance to infection, going on to lower as we have seen the immune defenses, including those of the mouth. This is why mouth ulcers and cold sores can often emerge, conditions that are very uncomfortable to endure and, in the case of herpes, also cause blemishes.

Stress can contribute to the development of temporomandibular disorders that affect the jaw joint and surrounding muscles, causing severe joint pain and headaches.

In stressful situations, people are more likely to consume sweets and alcohol, which greatly affect worsening oral health, or to smoke, generating bad breath, tooth discoloration, and increased risk of oral cancer or other negative changes in the oral cavity.

In times of stress, it is essential to maintain a daily and thorough oral hygiene routine, devoting a few minutes twice a day to cleaning and sanitizing one’s teeth. This is because oral disorders are much more likely to develop during chronic stress phases if oral hygiene is underestimated or neglected completely.

In addition to stress management, a balanced diet is important for maintaining oral health, and in this regard we invite you to read the in-depth discussion on healthy diet to follow to ensure the health of your teeth, sufficient sleep, and regular visits to the dentist.
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