Home #AtoZChallenge Oral Health and Stress

Oral Health and Stress

by Vidya Sury April 17, 2013 16 comments
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O is for Oral Health – on Day 15 of the #AtoZChallenge – and Oh! I can’t believe we’re exactly half way through this – even though the date is April 17.  I really didn’t have to think too hard about a topic for “O” because we’ve been busy with visits to the dentist for quite some time now – and the stress it has put us through was – well – ugh, enough said! Hence the focus on oral health and stress today.

Stress – I hardly have to emphasize – can have a big impact on our overall health and particularly  on our oral health. Not surprising how fatigue and related stuff comes to mind when we think about stress. Fact is, stress affects every facet of our health. Here is a look at the effect of stress on oral health. Good oral health is critical to our wellness.

Oral health and stress

If you are over-stressed, you can get a headache, a tummy ache or that “i-don’t-know-why” kind of edgy feeling. As you experience this, stress is quietly working on your teeth and gums, and therefore, your overall well being. Stress and anxiety can be the cause for:

  • Mouth sores
  • Bruxism where you clench and grind your teeth
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Gum disease. If you already suffer from it, it gets worse.
  • Unhealthy eating habits
  • Depression

Can you prevent this from happening?

Yes you can.

Let’s begin with mouth sores.

Mouth Sores

These include canker sores and cold sores.

Canker sores are those tiny whitish or greyish ulcers with a reddish border around them. These turn up inside the mouth in pairs or little clusters. The doctors have no clue what specifically causes them because there are many reasons why these appear. Some of these reasons are immune system related, bacteria, viruses, fatigue and allergies. Stress has been identified as a trigger for these too. The good news is canker sores are not contagious and will usually vanish in about a week. While they are in your mouth, you can minimize the agony by avoiding spicy or hot foods and acidic food like tomatoes and citrus fruits.

Cold sores resemble blisters and are caused by the herpes simplex virus. They are contagious. They usually appear around the lips or on them, under the nose and around the chin area. What triggers them? An emotional upset, a fever, sun burn or skin injury. These might heal in a week by themselves or with the help of over the counter medication and prescription meditation. It is best to consult your doc as soon as you see them start up.

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Teeth Grinding

Stress makes you grind your teeth or clench your jaws. This is also called “bruxism” and it is not pleasant. Some people have a tendency to do this subconsciously and if they are stressed out, it becomes worse. Teeth grinding can result in problems with the jaw joint (the TMJ or temporomandibular joint) where our skull meets our lower jaw. The problem can be a painful one. Dentists usually suggest wearing a night guard to avoid teeth grinding.

Poor Oral Hygiene

Those who suffer from acute stress often forget to maintain oral hygiene. They don’t remember to brush their teeth or floss. And we all know where that can lead, besides a smelly mouth that gradually alienates people from standing close to you.

Gum Disease

Inadequate oral hygiene can affect oral and overall health and result in gum disease and cavities. For those with gum disease, matters get worse. Stress will also result in the build up of dental plaque.

oral health and stress

Unhealthy eating habits

Another example of oral health and stress is from unhealthy eating habits. Stress causes people to snack on lots of sugary stuff and carbonated drinks. And before you know it, you’ve got tooth decay and other issues. And then, the teeth become sensitive and don’t let you eat well.


Stress causes depression. And when you are depressed, you face the risk of everything I listed above. Worse still, when you get treatment for gum disease, your outcome may not be good.  Grrr!

Can you make the depression or stress disappear?

Yes, but not overnight. You’ve got to use effective strategies to deal with your stress. You have to develop healthy habits focused on your problems. Exercise is a great way to relieve stress and energize yourself as it prompts you to look after yourself better and develop healthy eating habits. This in turn, strengthens the immune system and improves oral health.

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I also recommend guided meditation. Spare just fifteen minutes in the morning and fifteen minutes in the evening. It is a great investment in yourself, because when we’re mentally healthy, our body is healthier and everything is possible.

And remember that a healthy, nutritious and balanced diet must be a part of your lifestyle. Oral health and stress are closely related. Don’t forget to visit your dentist regularly and maintain good oral hygiene so that you can reduce the risk of gum disease. Brush and floss your teeth twice daily.oral health and stress

What is the right time to visit the dentist?

Tooth-Hurty! (2:30!)

Oral Health Matters

Stay healthy!

#AtoZChallenge O

Today, I recommend

Anuradha Khanna Pentapalli’s blog 
Diana Mohanty’s blog


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Harleena Singh April 17, 2013 at 8:52 am

Hi Vidya,

Congratulations for making it half way through – that’s great and commendable at the same time 🙂

Oral health and stress are related and I’ve gone through this phase long back when my teeth (one bad one) used to hurt when I was stressed, though the pain used to go away when the stress lessened too. I guess we really can’t pinpoint how and what form stress comes on and shows on us. Staying healthy is the key.

Thanks for sharing 🙂
Harleena Singh recently posted…5 Ways of Helping Children Cope With Change In Life

Corinne Rodrigues April 17, 2013 at 10:28 am

Oh yes, I’m guilty of putting off my dentist’s visits! Not any more – now I have such a charming dentist – Sharmila Kulkarni.
Loved the cartoons!
Corinne Rodrigues recently posted…Old Before My Time: Hayley Okines’ Life With Progeria

afshan April 17, 2013 at 10:59 am

I wondered for a while if U r a dentist 🙂 Nicely put vidya
Right now I was clenching my teeth but then stopped and smiles 😉 haha
and my current issue is wisdom tooth pain which is frightening . Hav dentist appointments which i avoided from long
I ALWAYS dread the dentist though
anyway grt tips
afshan recently posted…“O” for “Oh!”, “Oh Shit!” and “Oops!”

afshan April 17, 2013 at 11:00 am

stopped and smiled – I meant 🙂
afshan recently posted…“O” for “Oh!”, “Oh Shit!” and “Oops!”

Nandana April 17, 2013 at 12:07 pm

I am too lazy to keep up with doctor’s appointments, hope my lazy karma won’t catch up with me, should do some damage control soon. Thanks for the reminder.

Love the cartoons 😀
Nandana recently posted…Nandana’s bookshelf

Rachna April 17, 2013 at 12:11 pm

Having just undergone a tooth extraction and root canal, even thinking about a dentist hurts ouch :). But yes, this is one neglected area. A dentist friend was telling me, “It is easier doing the surgery on another patient and tougher undergoing it oneself :).
Rachna recently posted…Indian!

Shilpa Garg April 17, 2013 at 12:40 pm

That was very insightful. was not aware that oral health and stress are related! Thanks for sharing. 🙂
Shilpa Garg recently posted…O is for… Online Shopping

Ruchira April 17, 2013 at 3:07 pm

Informative. I didnt know oral health ans stress were interrelated !
Ruchira recently posted…O is for Orchha !

Shannon April 17, 2013 at 7:37 pm

Yes there is stress when it comes to my teeth…cancer treatment did nothing but make them worse…I am having oral surgery to remove 5 teeth and will have a partial put in at the same time…hopefully this will take care of everything…thanks and blessings!

Shannon at I Survived and Now I Run
Shannon recently posted…O Is For…Over Training

janu April 17, 2013 at 7:59 pm

I visit the dentist regularly…but, do not have the nerve to open my mouth otherwise than talk to her. Great info her.

Debbie April 17, 2013 at 8:03 pm

Love your cartons Vidya. yes, oral health is very important to our health. i always say when our mouth feels good we feel good.
Reason is we need food and if the mouth hurts, we can’t eat and the mood can just go down the tube quick.
Thanks for the reminder.
Debbie recently posted…How To Ask For Help (Even If It Scares The Crap Out Of You!)

Roshni April 18, 2013 at 1:05 am

*sigh* I have been putting off the wisdom tooth extraction for while now! Great post, Vidya!
Roshni recently posted…Blogging from A to Z April Challenge: O is for ….

Pallavi Purani April 18, 2013 at 11:42 am

Oh I must see the doc sometime soon. And I wish I give up grinding my teeth 🙁
Pallavi Purani recently posted…P for Pervert

Sulekha April 21, 2013 at 6:21 pm

Vidya, did my dentist visit prompt this post? 🙂 Thanks for the wonderful tips, stress is the root cause of all evil 🙂

john March 12, 2019 at 10:48 am

Thank you for the informative post.
Pacing milk of magnesia on the muth ulcers can also help.

dentist near me Morayfield October 13, 2021 at 2:26 pm

While it’s still possible that emergencies can arise, they can be reduced by getting your teeth regularly checked. It’s never fun to have cavities filled or wisdom teeth removed, but it will be even less fun if you have to live in pain for a while before you get in to get the problem corrected.


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