Oral Health

Published by Dr. P. VIdhiyasagar M.D.S., on

We live in a time where life is very fast-paced and challenging. It requires facing and coping with challenges of varying intensity at different points in time, which can be mentally exhausting, physiological effects. These physiological effects also extend to the oral cavity.

Poor oral hygiene maintenance

It less likely that a good daily oral hygiene routine would be a priority for a person for a person who is stressed or anxious. Not brushing and flossing regularly and efficiently puts one at a greater risk for tooth decay and gum disease.


A stressed individual has the tendency to subconsciously grind or clench his teeth while asleep. This is clinically referred to as ‘Bruxism’ and s considered a parafunctional habit. Bruxism can cause aggressive wearing away of the enamel and chipping away of the tooth structure. This damage is irreversible and can cause tooth sensitivity,including changes to the vertical dimension of the face.The occlusal table also gets altered and can lead to a flattening of the grinding surface of the teeth involved.this can cause food to get impacted between teeth,leading to periodontal infection.

Chronic stress causes the muscles in the body to be in a constant state of tension due to reflex reaction/mechanism. Clenching and grinding of teeth makes jaw muscles sore,making it hard to open and close your mouth or even chew food.Bruxism can also affect the periodontal structures by increasing the load beyond the normal tolerable threshold, causing a cascade of events that eventually lead  to periodontitis.

Effects of Teeth Grinding

> Broken dental restoration and tooth sensitivity

> TMJ disorders and facial pain

Hormonal imbalance

Stress causes a negative hormonal imbalance in the body through various physiological signalling mechanisms. These changes have a direct influence on the production of saliva.Reduced salivary production can cause dryness of the mouth (xerostomia). A frequently dry mouth causes a rapid build -up of plaque and increased incidence of caries. Dry mouth can also cause the tongue to become very sensitive.

Hormonal changes can also lower your immunity against infections, due to a breakdown in the productive factors. This also increases fungal and other opportunistic infections. Aphthous ulcers may appear as red lesions  with a white or yellow centre on the inside of the cheeks or lips, the tongue, the upper surface of the mouth or the base of the gums. They may cause burning sensation in the mouth, pain, inflammation,fever and swollen lymph nodes.


Ulcers or non -contagious and usually resolve spontaneously within a week or so. They may also make it difficult for a person to maintain good oral hygiene or chew and swallow food properly. Reduced immunity can also delay or prevent efficient healing, especially after dental procedures.


Oral lichen planus


Oral lichen planus is a chronic inflammatory condition that affects  mucous membranes inside the mouth. They may appear as while ,lacy patches; red, swollen tissues, or open sores. These lesions may cause burning, pain or other discomfort. Lichen planus is believed to be a hyper reaction to viral infections due to stress.


Poor choice of diet

Stress eating or comfort foods usually involve junk foods that are high in carbohydrates and sugars which,when coupled with poor dental habits,cause an increase in dental caries and periodontal infections. A poorly nutritious diet or not eating enough at regular intervals due to stress can also cause additional harm, as a result of acidity and regurgitation.


Poor coping mechanisms

Poor coping mechanisms to stress, such as smoking,drinking,chewing tobacco or substance abuse have either direct or indirect effects on oral health and at times, they can even have a synergistic detrimental effects as well.


Psychological problems

A lot of psychological issues may also arise due to stress. Sometimes a pseudo -perception of non existent problem may be observed in stressed individuals. They are usually diagnosed when no visible clinical signs or evident; for example, ‘burning mouth syndrome’, which presents with a sensation of burning all over the mouth. It does not seem to respond to medication.other issues include a feeling of itchiness in the gums, constant in the gums, constant pain in the jaws, and even complaints of bad breath or bleeding in the mouth, even if it does not exist.



Everyone faces stressful situations in life in one way or the other. But a chronic stressful state where a person is unable to cope with the situations can be hazerous.it is always beneficial to speak to those around you or even seek professional counsel,when situations become hard to handle.this can help you maintain and lead an overall good,healthy life..


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