Oral Health and Stress: Is There a Correlation?

Stress. It’s everywhere and in many of our lives. Researchers have found a significant link between stress and oral health, helping us better understand what part anxiety and depression take in the development of dental problems.


At Joly Dental Care in Edmonton, we encourage you to work on lowering your stress levels. Stress is a contributing factor to the following conditions:


Bruxism – Otherwise known as teeth grinding, it can be caused by stress. If you’re diagnosed with bruxism, a night guard can be prescribed to protect your teeth and jaw.


TMJ/TMD – Stress contributes to temporomandibular disorder (TMD disorder), in many ways. TMD pain results from dental problems specific to the jaw and associated muscles. Trauma and tooth grinding are common causes of TMD. TMD syndrome (or TMJ syndrome) is a complex disorder affecting - in different ways and to different degrees - the jaw joints, facial muscles, facial nerves and surrounding tissues. Scientists are uncertain about the causes of TMJ disorder, although stress, hormonal fluctuations in women, misaligned bites (malocclusions) and teeth grinding are considerations.


Lichen Planus – Lichen planus of the mouth is characterized by white lines, sores and ulcers in the oral cavity. Some experts believe lichen planus is a reaction to viral infections caused by stress.


Canker Sores – No one quite knows what exactly causes canker sores, but they are sometimes brought on by stress. Although harmless, these small sores can be painful.


Cold Sores – Also called fever blisters they are caused by the herpes simplex virus. Fluid filled and often show up on or around your lips, they also can appear under your nose or around your chin. Feeling upset can trigger an outbreak.


Dry Mouth – Results from conditions caused by stress, but it is also a common side effect of drugs used to treat depression or high blood pressure.


Burning Mouth Syndrome – Psychological problems are just one of the many factors known to cause burning mouth, which is identified by a burning sensation on the tongue, lips, gums or palate.


Gum Disease – Studies have shown that long-term stress affects our immune systems, increasing our susceptibility to infections such as periodontal disease.


Other Risk Factors – Patients who are under stress tend to neglect their oral hygiene routines. Poor diet is also a result of stress. Stress not only causes dental conditions, but painful dental problems can also increase our levels of stress and anxiety. Furthermore, our ability to tolerate pain is compromised as our bodies struggle to adapt to stressful situations. As a result, tooth pain can become more extreme during times of stress.


If you’re feeling stressed, don’t forget about your oral health and maintain your oral hygiene regimen. Take proper measures to reduce stress in your life, such as eating well, exercising and getting plenty of sleep. If you suffer from extreme anxiety or depression, seek professional help.


If you’re experiencing pain or discomfort during normal jaw movements, have noticed yourself clenching or grinding your teeth frequently, or experienced a recent head trauma (concussions), Joly Dental Care provides TMJ and TMD treatments in Edmonton from a highly experienced staff.


Joly Dental Care’s dental clinic is conveniently located in downtown Edmonton, where it’s easily accessible by both car and public transit. Schedule a consultation at our dental office today.

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