How Does Stress Affect Your Oral Health? | Snohomish, WA

Excess stress may give you many symptoms including headache, a stomachache, or even just a feeling of being "on edge." But did you know that too much stress can also be affecting your mouth, teeth, gums, and your overall health. The potential issues you may encounter in your Oral Health from stress include:

  • Canker Sores and Cold Sores
  • Clenching of teeth and teeth grinding (bruxism)
  • Poor oral hygiene and unhealthy eating routines
  • Periodontal (gum) disease or exasperation of existing periodontal disease

What can you prevent these Oral Health problems?

Mouth Sores

Canker sores are small ulcers with a white or grayish base and bordered in red that appear inside the mouth. Experts aren't sure what causes them but it can be immune system problems, bacteria, or viruses.  Stress, as well as fatigue and allergies, can increase the risk of getting them. Canker sores are not contagious and usually disappear in a week to 10 days. For relief from the irritation, Dr. Ted Haines recommends trying over-the-counter topical anesthetics and to reduce irritation, don't eat spicy, hot foods or foods with a high acid content, such as tomatoes or citrus fruits.

Cold sores or fever blisters are caused by the herpes simplex virus and are contagious. Cold sores are fluid-filled blisters that often appear on or around the lips, but can also appear under the nose or around the chin area. Times of emotional stress can trigger an outbreak but they also can happen with a fever, sunburn, or a skin abrasion. Like canker sores, fever blisters often heal on their own in a week or so. Treatment is available, including over-the-counter remedies and prescription antiviral drugs. It's important to start treatment as soon as you notice the cold sore forming.

Teeth Grinding

Stress may make you clench and grind your teeth.  This can happen during the day or at night and you often do it without knowing you are doing it. Teeth grinding is also known as bruxism. If you already clench and grind your teeth, stress can often make the habit worse. And, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) can occur by grinding your teeth.  The TMJ located in front of the ear where the skull and lower jaw meet.  Dr. Ted Haines may recommend that you wear a night guard that is worn as you sleep.

Poor Oral Hygiene

Extreme stress may affect your mood and cause you to skip brushing, flossing, and rinsing on a regular basis. If you don't take care of your mouth, your teeth and overall oral health may suffer. Skipping daily hygiene practices may worsen gum disease if you have it already. If your mouth is in reasonably good health, not keeping up on these healthy mouth habits can lead to gum disease or increase your risk of cavities.

Gum Disease

Stress can cause an increase in dental plaque, even when the high stress levels are short-term. Long-term stress can boost your risk of bleeding gums, or gingivitis, which can progress to serious gum disease.

Remember, eating a balanced diet, seeing Dr. Ted Haines regularly, and good oral hygiene help reduce your risks of periodontal disease. Make sure you brush at least twice a day and floss daily. Using an Antibacterial mouth rinse also help reduce plaque-causing bacteria.

For an appointment call Dr. Ted Haines at (360) 568-8577 or schedule an appointment online.

Dr. Ted Haines also proudly serves Monroe, Lake Stevens, Everett, Mill Creek, Woodenville, and surrounding areas.