The Mouth Speaks Stress: Oral Health Reveals Your Anxiety

TeethThey say that the mouth serves as a window allowing for a glance into one’s over-all health. It offers clues about the risk of cardiovascular problems or Alzheimer’s disease or the presence of diabetes and other pressing health conditions such as heightened stress levels. How frequently you clench your teeth during sleep or why gum disease developed can reveal a great deal about the stress you are experiencing.

Dental practitioners from list down some oral symptoms associated with stress:

Periodontal Disease

Studies show that excessive stress can also lead to gum disease. Researchers propose two reasons behind this. The first one concerns the person’s lifestyle. Most people who deal with stressful situations tend to overlook proper oral hygiene. They resort to smoking and drinking alcohol and neglect healthy habits, like brushing teeth. These factors all contribute to the development of gum disease.

The second reason stress contributes to periodontal problems involves physiological factors. When the body is under stress, it releases more cortisol. As these hormones are produced in the gums, they cause mast cells to produce more proteins, which then increases inflammation and risk for periodontal disease.

Canker Sores

These red or white sores can develop anywhere inside the mouth. Although not contagious, they are sometimes painful. Canker sores are also associated with anxiety. Stress compromises the immune system and makes a person more vulnerable to canker sores.

Some researchers observed that students are more likely to develop the problem, but the sores appear less frequently after graduation.


Bruxism or teeth grinding is a sign of anxiety. It is the body’s response to stress. What happens is, nerves in the jaw send a message to the part of the brain that regulates the fight-or-flight response.

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Stress and bruxism is a vicious cycle. As you encounter life stressors, you become more vulnerable to teeth grinding. And as the health problem becomes more severe, it awakens the brain from deep sleep, causing lack of quality sleep. This affects moods and may lead you to feel more stressed than ever.

Treatment for bruxism usually involves the use of splints and mouth guards. These dental appliances keep teeth separated to avoid damages caused by excessive grinding.

Are you stressed out? Your mouth might have the answers. Ask your dentist about treatment options.