Effect of Stress on your Oral Health

stress and oral health

Stress is one of the most common sources of health problems and your oral health is not excluded. There is a stronger link between oral health and stress than people imagine. Stress does not only affect your mental and emotional state, it also has a severe consequence on your oral health. It contributes to dry mouth, TMJ disorder, gum diseases, teeth grinding, and other oral problems. Therefore, it is important to manage your stress level to avoid these problems. 

Read on as Dr Zhang Minguan, a dentist who also received a master’s degree in dental surgery from the University of Hong Kong in implant Dentistry explains the effect of stress on your oral health.

Gum disease

Gum disease is caused by gum infection and it often leads to bad breath, gum bleeding, and many more. Stress impediments the immune system which increases inflammation and toxic bacteria. It is also very difficult for the body to fight against infection when it is under stress. Research has shown that some people grind their teeth or smoke cigarettes when stressed. This can also lead to severe gum disease. 

Researchers from Tufts University also study the link between stress and gum disease. They found out that the body loses its ability to produce immune cells used for protection against bacteria when experiencing stress. The Academy of General Dentistry also supports the research result and made a statement that says “Stress affects the immune system, which fights against the bacteria that causes periodontal disease, making a person more prone to gum infection.”

Dry mouth

Dry mouth is a side effect of both stress and medication used for treating depression and stress, says Zhang Minguan. The mouth often uses saliva as a defense against therefore dry mouth leads to an increase in infection, tooth decay, and many more. 

Teeth grinding 

Teeth grinding has been linked to many conditions and stress is one of them. It is a common oral health problem and often happens during sleep. Stress and other conditions such as sleep apnea, anxiety can make people clench their teeth while sleeping. This can lead to headaches, abnormal tooth wear, damaged jaw, and teeth. 

Severe teeth grinding also leads to sleep disorder, changes in facial appearance, and broken teeth if not treated. Some of the ways to reduce the stress that causes teeth grinding include meditation, exercise, and many more. You can also get a tooth guard from a dentist and wear it every night. This will prevent your teeth from damaging and also prevent your teeth from sliding over each other when you are sleeping. 

Temporomandibular joint disorder

Temporomandibular joints are the joint use for moving the lower joint and they are found below the ear. Swelling of this joint can lead to TMJ disorder. Research has shown that stress is one of the major causes of TMJ disorder. This is because people tend to overuse the jaw muscle when stressed. When stressed, we tend to do more teeth grinding and jaw clenching which can lead to TMJ disorder explained Zhang Minguan.


Long-term stress can damage your oral health hygiene. An unhealthy lifestyle and neglecting your oral hygiene can also increase your risk of oral problems.