Stress has a way of sneaking up on us — especially when you have a scheduled visit to the dentist! However, stress and anxiety are proven to negatively affect your oral health. 

Read on to discover five ways stress may be damaging your teeth and tips for avoiding stress-related oral degeneration.

How Stress Affects the Body

Stress is almost an innate characteristic of human beings, and can lead us to any number of responses when confronted by stress and stress-inducing situations. Our body’s natural response to stress is to release a flood of stress hormones, which find their way to other parts of the body for later use and alertness. 

This process tends to weaken the immune system, triggering the human brain to seek comfort — this is why some people turn to certain coping mechanisms like unhealthy foods, drinking, or smoking to mitigate the feelings caused by stress. Unfortunately, each of these devices can play a damaging role in the health of your teeth, gums, and oral cavities. 

#1: Clenched Jaws

One of the first involuntary reactions of the body in a stress-related episode is to tense the muscular region of our mouth, called “clenched jaw.” Muscle tension is often associated with guarding against injury and pain. 

Temporomandibular joint dysfunction is a condition that involves pain or difficulty in moving your jaws. We’ve written about TMJD before. Symptoms typically include:

  • Pain in your jaws
  • Locked jaws
  • Difficulty in opening your mouth
  • Noises from temporomandibular joint
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Pain around your ears
#2: Teeth Grinding

A similar response to a clenched jaw is grinding teeth in the event of fear or stress. The application of constant friction in the upper and lower regions of the mouth can cause tooth enamel to wear down and add strain to the jaws. Teeth grinding often rears its head while someone is asleep, and symptoms include: 

  • Chipped teeth
  • Increased tooth sensitivity
  • Tight jaws
  • Teeth-grinding noises while sleeping
  • Pain in the temple or the ear area
#3: Dry Mouth

Saliva is sometimes referred to as a “mouth’s best friend.” This is because saliva keeps the mouth moist, removes food particles, and fights unhealthy bacteria that seek to introduce adverse effects on your nervous system, limiting the amount of saliva your body is able to produce. 

#4: Gum infection

A weakened immune system is one of the most fearful oral symptoms caused by stress and should be avoided. A compromised immune system cannot fight against infections and increases the likelihood of contracting gum diseases. 

High levels of stress hormones trigger the production of proteins in the gums, leading to inflammation and periodontal disease.

#5: Poor Hygiene

The last point we want to consider is typically a by-product of stress. When someone is experiencing high levels of stress and anxiety, it’s easy to allow hygiene to go by the wayside. Not only is this the wrong thing to do, but it can lead to any one of the above oral consequences. 

Stress can lead to poor coping habits, unhealthy dieting, and a lifestyle that leads to a recipe for oral health issues down the line like plaque buildup and even tooth loss.

Schedule Your Appointment | The Landing Dental Spa

Our dentists at The Landing Dental Spa have a tenured history of dealing with stress-related oral health. We know it can be scary to make an appointment, but we promise we’ll make it worth it.

Are you suffering from poor oral health? Make an appointment at The Landing Dental Spa today. Located in Morgantown, West Virginia, our relaxing environment will calm and soothe you as our caring staff adequately treats you. For a comfortable, relaxing, and spa-like dental appointment, call us at 304-594-2200 or contact us online here

We look forward to making you smile.