Don’t Worry, Be Happy: How Stress Affects Your Oral Health

There’s work, school, family, finances, health…a million and one things that can stress us out. In fact, an estimated 44 percent of Americans feel more stress than they did five years ago. As one of the leading causes of health issues, stress can have a powerfully negative effect on your oral health.

At Little Heroes Dentistry we know that life can be hectic, that’s why we want you take a moment for yourself and just smile at the world around you. Your dental health is of utmost importance to our Sidekicks at Little Heroes and so we want you to be aware of the manner in which stress can affect your teeth.

Clenching and Grinding

Officially known as bruxism, many individuals fail to even realize that they are grinding and clenching their teeth because it usually happens at night when they sleep. However, stress can make you subconsciously clench and grind your teeth at any moment. Unfortunately, this can lead to issues with the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), which can cause headaches, joint locking, and muscle spasms.

If you consistently have a sore jaw, or notice teeth are beginning to become misshapen, immediately contact your dentist. They may recommend you wear a night guard or another device that inhibits the action.

Dry Mouth

Dry mouth is the result of a lack of saliva adequately moistening the inside of your mouth and can increase your risk of cavities, as well as make eating and swallowing painful.

Stress can be a culprit either because of medication you might take to ease the stress or because, when stressed, you breath more from your mouth which leads to dry mouth. It’s vital that you address this issue with your dentist and/or doctor as the underlying cause maybe something more serious such as diabetes.

Drink more water and use specially designed mouthwash to help relieve dry mouth to a degree.

Bad Oral Hygiene

Unfortunately, stress can have a definite effect on your mood and can ultimately cause you to develop bad oral hygiene or eating habits if you’re not careful. Failing to brush, floss, or care for your teeth properly everyday can lead to cavities and gum disease. Also, many individuals facing an unhealthy amount of stress tend, to eat unhealthily, opting for sweets and sodas, which can lead to tooth decay and other serious health problems.

Regardless of circumstances, try to prevent these issues by maintaining good oral health care and eating immune system boosting foods.

Gum Disease and Infections

As previously mentioned, stress can lead to bad oral hygiene, which can eventually cause gum disease and infections. Because stress weakens your immune system, you can develop a higher chance of experiencing gum disease. This condition usually begins with gingivitis and can progress to more severe issues like periodontitis if not managed appropriately. Symptoms of gum disease include red, swollen gums that bleed easily.

Remember to keep a healthy diet, maintain good oral hygiene, and visit your favorite Sidekicks at Little Heroes Dentistry regularly.


Known usually as canker sores, these painful mouth ulcers have been shown to run at a higher rate when stress increases, though they can also be caused by vigorous teeth cleaning. There are various over the counter and home remedies that can help to alleviate canker sores, but a severe sore should be seen by a trained medical professional.

If a mouth sore is affecting you, avoid eating spicy and acidic foods, which can cause irritation.

What You Can Do

The truth is that stress is unavoidable. Life is going to happen, but that doesn’t mean that you should make the situation harder on yourself by avoid proper oral care. Look for ways to ease your stress and visit your physician to receive some tips on how to deal with the issues and symptoms.

Because stress can increase the risk of oral health issues, you’ll want to get your routine checkups with your dentist at Little Heroes Dentistry to prevent anything from becoming too serious.

So schedule an appointment at any of our three Valley-wide locations in Mission, San Juan, and Laredo or visit our website to learn more about our services for your entire family.


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