Don’t Stress It; Your Mouth Will Thank You


According to the annual Stress in America Report (American Psychological Association) for 2014, the majority of Americans are living with stress levels higher than what is believed to be healthy. Top stress factors in 2014 include financial concerns (64% report it is a significant source), work, the economy, family responsibilities, and personal health concerns.

Most of us aware of the many of the potential negative effects stress can have on our minds and bodies including anxiety disorders, panic attacks, fatigue, irritability, and the overall feeling of not being healthy, but not nearly as many understand that stress can also effect oral health in the mouth, gums, and teeth. The three most common problems created from stress include:

Sores in Your Mouth

Although researchers are still not sure what causes canker sores, there is a tendency for the mouth to break out with sores when the body is stressed. Although there is no life-long consequence to developing a sore, they sure do hurt.

Teeth Grinding/Bruxism

Many people tend to clench or grind their teeth when extremely stressed out or upset. This can happen during the day and at night; most of the time, you may not even notice you’re doing it. If you already have a habit of doing this, stress can increase the tendency.

To deal with bruxism, your dentist may recommend a mouth guard to wear while you sleep. You should also make a conscious decision to keep teeth apart from each other when you are not eating.

Poor Cleaning & Eating Habits

Ever been really stressed and tired and immediately reached for a candy bar? A large soda? A bowl of ice-cream? It’s completely normal. When we are stressed out, we tend to crave sugary foods and drinks that will make us “feel good.” But you don’t need anyone to tell you that excessive sugary food and drinks can make you feel worse, and can lead to cavities. When you’re stressed out, you’re also likely to skip brushing and flossing your teeth for the sake of time or an extra wink of sleep.

What You Can Do About It

Of course, along with the recommended quick fixes listed above, the ideal situation is to reduce the stress in your life. Help yourself out by reminding yourself that indulging in sugary foods and ignoring cleaning your mouth will only lead to more stress later: bills for dentist appointments and procedures, time out of your schedule to visit the dentist, “sugar crashes” and feelings of fatigue, and possible pain from cavities.

To aid in your stress reduction, remember to eat healthy, get an adequate amount of sleep, and exercise regularly—regardless of how much time you do or don’t have. Your body will thank you. If you’re experiencing extreme levels of stress that you think may be causing depression, talk to your medical doctor for a recommendation.

And if you have already been experiencing some of the negative side effects in your oral health from stress, feel free to give us a call or set up an appointment at Halonen Family Dentistry so we can answer any questions and discuss how we may be able to help.