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The Impact Stress Can Have on Your Oral Health

Posted on 4/30/2017 by Dr Jonathan Ford
An elderly woman suffering from severe TMD.
Stress has many causes. You might have a big project at work or school and you're down to the wire. Perhaps you're getting ready for a big move. Maybe your kids have to be picked up at practice and you're stuck in traffic. Or, maybe your stress is more long term.

You have too many responsibilities at work. Your commute every day is full of traffic. Whatever the cause of your stress, studies have found that it has a huge impact on your health, raising your blood pressure and causing ulcers. Stress can even have an impact on your oral health.


Bruxism is a term that refers to the clenching and/or grinding of your teeth. When you're stressed, your muscles tense up, including those in your jaw, which leads to clenching.

This can happen during the day, and is more controllable this way, but it frequently happens at night. When you grind your teeth, they begin to wear, and can sometimes be worn down to nubs.


TMD, or temporomandibular disorder, is connected to bruxism. It is a condition that refers to conditions affecting your jaw and the temporomandibular joint (the hinge of your upper and lower jaw) that lead to pain, difficulty opening your mouth, problems chewing and even headaches and earaches. Clenching and grinding puts unnecessary amounts of pressure on the joint and the jaw, leading to inflammation and irritation.

Gum Disease and Tooth Decay

Stress can make you more susceptible to gum disease and tooth decay. This can happen one of a few different ways. First, in connection with bruxism, your gums may begin to recede. This leaves more of the surface of your teeth, and the sensitive root open to bacterial invasion. The bacteria can not only harm your teeth, but get below the gum line and infect your gums.

The second way in which stress can lead to these issues is through medication used to treat it. Many stress relieving medications cause dry mouth. Saliva plays an important role in keeping your mouth healthy by killing bacteria and washing it away. Without sufficient saliva, your mouth dries out and becomes the perfect breeding ground for bacteria to grow.

Stress management techniques, such as breathing techniques and exercise can greatly help relieve many of these issues, and help you to stay healthier overall. And it is also important to maintain oral hygiene as well. Brush your teeth twice a day, floss every day and be sure to contact our office at least twice a year for complete oral cleanings and exams.

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Ford Dental Group, 16511 Goldenwest Suite 107, Huntington Beach, CA 92647 ~ (714) 409-6161 ~ ~ 6/17/2021 ~ Tags: dentist Huntington Beach CA ~ dentist Huntington Beach CA ~