Stress Wrecks Your Smile: How to Fight Back and Keep Your Mouth Healthy

Stress Wrecks Your Smile: How to Fight Back and Keep Your Mouth Healthy

0 June 28, 2024

Stress is an unavoidable reality these days and you just can’t avoid it. Coping with it takes a toll on our body and creates disbalance in the whole body. The effects of stress are not only limited to our mental health but can also stretch to oral health. Researchers have found several links between stress and oral health concerns or problems.

Here are some facts about how stress affects your oral health which can take you by surprise.

Effects of stress on your oral health

  • Teeth grinding
  • Gum disease
  • Dry mouth
  • Canker sores
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • TMJ
  • Nail biting

Teeth Grinding: Teeth grinding and jaw clenching (also called bruxism) is often related to stress or anxiety. If you have bruxism, you may unconsciously clench your teeth when you’re awake (awake bruxism) or clench or grind them during sleep (sleep bruxism).


  • Flattened it fractured teeth
  • Chipped or broken teeth
  • Enamel erosion
  • Tight jaws, neck, or face pain
  • Earaches
  • Teeth sensitivity.

Meditation, counseling, and exercise are some ways to reduce the stress that causes teeth grinding. Your dentist can also make you a tooth guard to wear at night.

TMJ Disorder:

TMJ stands for temporomandibular joints. These are the joints that you use to move your lower jaw. They are located just below your ear. Muscle tension helps guard the body against injury and pain, but constant muscle tension in your jaw from chronic stress can cause swelling or stiffness in these joints leading to TMJ problems.


  • Pain in your jaws and around your ears. 
  • You may have trouble opening your mouth or chewing food.
  • Hear a clicking noise in your temporomandibular joint.

Your dentist may suggest a soft diet, meditation, or an anti-anxiety medication. 

Gum Diseases: Stress makes it harder for your body to fight off infections. Gum disease is an infection of your gums.


  • Bleeding gums
  • gum sensitivity
  • swollen, puffy gums
  • Bad breath
  • Pus between gums and teeth
  • loose teeth
  • Painful chewing

Normally, Healthy gums should be firm and pale pink.

Dry Mouth : Dry mouth is one of the main effects of stress. This causes a lack of saliva in your mouth. Saliva has many oral health benefits, including washing away food particles from your teeth and gums.


  • Bad breath
  • Dry or sore throat
  • Difficulty swallowing, chewing, or speaking
  • Dry grooved tongue
  • Change in taste

It’s important for you to increase your water intake.

Canker Sores: ulcer

If you are like most people, you have suffered through occasional attacks of these painful and annoying mouth ulcers. Causes of ulcer can include vitamin B deficiency and any type of mouth injury or irritation. Several studies now show that stress is another big trigger for canker sores. 


  • Small white or yellow oval-shaped ulcer in your mouth
  • Painful red area
  • A tingling sensation in your mouth
  • You may also have swollen lymph nodes, fever, and a feeling of just being unwell.

Normally these ulcers heal within a week, If you still get a canker/sores, your doctor or dentist may prescribe a gel or cream to relieve the pain and diagnose any other medical conditions that triggers ulcers.  

Nail Biting:

  • Nail biting is a stress-related habit that can be harmful to your oral health and your overall health. 
  • Nail biting can move your teeth out of position. It can also damage your teeth. 
  • Adding the germs from your fingernails to the germs in your mouth can lead to mouth infections.
  • Viruses and bacteria that get picked up on your hands can spread to the rest of your body.

Poor diet/nutrition:

  • Poor diet or malnutrition due to stress can be a primary reason for vitamin deficiency which can further cause major health issues.

Decreased immune response:

  • Decreased immune response caused by stress, which can lead to periodontal (gum) disease.

Poor oral hygiene:

  • One of the reasons for poor oral hygiene could be neglecting your oral health owing to stress by irregular brushing, not cleaning the tongue. All these can eventually cause dental cavities as well as gum disorders.

So, how can you deal with stress?

  • Well, it’s important to get to the root of the problem and figure out why you’re stressed. 
  • Once you find out the causes, it’s time to think about how to lower your stress levels.

 In the meantime, you can follow these steps to get relief from painful oral symptoms:

  • Visit your dentist for regular check-ups and cleanings
  • Avoid hard or crunchy foods when you’re in pain.
  • Restrain yourself from alcohol and tobacco intake. 
  • Stay active. Regular exercise can help with stress management.
  • Manage pain through gentle massage, physical therapy or pain relief medications prescribed by the doctor. 
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet
  • Keep up with your oral hygiene technique at home.

Smiling! a simple and effective way to reduce stress. Keep Smiling 🙂

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