Mind Over Mouth: Surprising Ways Stress Can Affect Your Oral Health

Stress can affect your oral health.

Keep your stress in check so it doesn’t affect your oral health.

Stress can affect all parts of your life, including your oral health, if you don’t learn to manage and control your stress levels. While some describe stress as an overwhelming feeling; tension caused by physical, mental, or emotional strain; or a perceived expectation that the demand of something exceeds their abilities, stress can be seen as many things, and everyone handles stress differently.

Types of Stress We Deal With Daily

There are different types of stress that we can encounter on a daily basis. 

  • Acute stress is a negative response to an event, such as a car accident, and can cause short term anxiety, flashbacks, and feelings of helplessness.
  • Chronic stress is defined as the things you find stressful on a daily basis, like paying bills, dealing with children, or figuring out what to have for dinner. Chronic stress is important to keep under control because it can affect the mind and body, especially the immune system. 
  • Distress is another form of stress that people experience daily. Distress is often the negative forces in our lives that we can’t avoid, such as problems at work, financial issues, and even divorce.
  • The final type of stress in our lives is eustress, which is stress that has a positive impact on your life. Examples of eustress could be a promotion, a wedding, or winning the lottery.

How does stress affect oral health?

Different people have various reactions to stress, which can come out in many forms. Since we are focusing on oral health, some of the following conditions can be related to stress, although they don’t necessarily have to be the only reason your body has these reactions.


Bruxism, better known as teeth grinding or jaw clenching, can be connected to stress. While bruxism often happens when someone is asleep, a person can consciously or subconsciously experience bruxism while awake. Teeth grinding and jaw clenching can be a way to release tension that is built up from stress.

While the occasional bout with bruxism might not seem like it has any affect on your dental health, you are mistaken. Bruxism can cause the enamel on your teeth to wear down, making your teeth more susceptible to cavities and even tooth fractures. Bruxism can also cause jaw discomfort from the constant tension the jaw bone is experiencing.

Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorders

The Temporomandibular Joint, better known as TMJ, is the joint that holds your jaw in place. When stress is applied to the TMJ, often through bruxism, it can cause pain in your jaw and even limit the movement of the jaw. If your TMJ gets out of alignment, it can cause a clicking noise, and also affect your bite. If you are experiencing jaw pain and think it may be related to TMJ, visit the staff at Davis Family Dental Care where you can get an evaluation to see if your TMJ may be the cause of your pain.

Stress-Induced Dry Mouth

One of the most apparent symptoms of stress can be dry mouth, known as xerostomia, which is the lack of saliva production. Saliva is produced by the many glands in your mouth, and your natural saliva can help fight off bacteria in your mouth. Dry mouth not only causes your mouth to become dry, but it can cause bad breath, difficulty eating or swallowing, and can even affect your voice. 

Stress can cause your body to stop producing enough saliva, which can lead to dry mouth and its many different symptoms. Saliva is needed because it helps to protect your teeth by breaking down food particles, and helps to wash away any leftover bacteria in your mouth so it doesn’t stick to your teeth and cause cavities.

Besides controlling your stress, you can stave off dry mouth by staying hydrated—drinking water or chewing sugar-free gum. Loading up on dairy products, which are rich in calcium, can also help combat dry mouth.

Managing your stress can help your oral health.

It’s very important to keep your stress in check, and by doing so, you can help keep your oral health in top shape. But how exactly can you manage your stress? Many doctors and dentists recommend using meditation as a way to keep yourself calm. Focus on slow breathing techniques while relaxing your entire body during your meditation sessions. Make sure you take the time to feel completely relaxed, and don’t rush the process—a good meditation session takes about 20 to 30 minutes.

While meditation and relaxation techniques might work for some, others might find channeling their stress into a physical activity, like running, kickboxing, or heading to the driving range to hit golf balls, works a little better. Some people find that doing physical activity works as an outlet to release their stress. Whatever works for you, make sure you are doing it consistently to keep your stress in check!

Visit the team at Davis Family Dental Care for your oral care.

Part of managing your stress responses is self-care, and one way you can do that is by addressing the effects of bruxism or dry mouth with the friendly team at Davis Family Dental Care. Schedule an appointment today and start yourself on the path to better life balance.