Stress and its impact on oral health

It has been revealed that long-term stress can have an important impact on oral health, and is thought to be linked to the increasing number of cases of gum disease, tooth decay, and bad breath.

Nowadays, dentists are finding increasing numbers of adolescents as well as middle-aged adults are suffering from tooth decay, and have found that it may be a result of stress.

Dr Srikanth of the Indian Dental Association says that ‘the number of people suffering from cavities in their adolescence and middle age is increasing’. She added that this is because when a person is under stress, he or she tends eat more sugary foods or sweets to feel good and re-energise them.

‘But due to pressure at work or home, little attention is paid to gargling or cleaning teeth at the edges to make sure food is not stuck. These minor details are skipped as oral hygiene is last on the list of priorities.’

If the problem is a recurring one, other factors must be considered, for example changes in hormones as a result of stress. Another regular problem is people grinding their teeth subconsciously when put under pressure, something that can frequently occur when asleep.

Dr Kishore Koya says, ‘Grinding or clenching of teeth can wear down or chip off teeth due to excess force on supporting tissues. It can also cause bone loss as teeth tend to become loose.’
Stress can also lead to bad breath, also known as halitosis. Although bad breath is usually caused by large amounts of bad bacteria in the mouth, in some cases, people with ideal oral health can experience it, a result of stress.

Stress can cause bad breath in stressful situations, as people’s bodies react by giving them a boost of energy in order to quickly react to what it is seeing as a dangerous situation. This causes the mouth to produce less saliva, seen as unnecessary in critical circumstances. The lack of saliva results in bad breath, as the odorous gases bacteria creates, which are usually washed away by saliva, remain and can be released into the air. They are also more likely to stick to the surface of a dry mouth.

There are multiple ways to fight bad breath caused by dry mouth, such as drinking plenty of water to keep the mouth moist. Chewing sugar-free gum is also a way to stimulate the production of saliva. If using mouthwash to wash away the bacteria, use one with little or no alcohol content as this can further dehydrate the mouth.

If stress is the main contributor to bad breath, you can use stress-reducing techniques, such as meditation and deep-breathing exercises which clear the mind and ease tension, thus reducing stress and invoking relaxation. As well as this, any form of exercise boosts endorphins and allows you to cope with high-stress situations better.

Here at Dental Care Partnership we can advise on all matters surrounding your teeth and dental health – call now on 0121 354 1922 to speak to a member of our welcoming staff.