The Link Between Stress and Oral Health

by | Dec 13, 2020 | Blog Posts

The Link Between Stress and Oral Health

It’s common knowledge that your oral health has a direct impact on the rest of your body, but did you know that your oral health and stress are connected? Throughout 2020, people around the world have been hit with stressor after stressor, whether it be related to health, economics or politics. As this year comes to a close, it’s important to monitor the toll that stress has taken on your teeth.

Here are five signs that your stress level is negatively affecting your oral health:

1. You’ve Started Grinding Your Teeth

Tooth grinding, also known as bruxism, affects an estimated 13% of adults. 1 Most commonly, bruxism occurs when you are sleeping, so it can be difficult to control. Bruxism can result in jaw pain, tooth pain, cracked or chipped teeth, and even chronic headaches.

Anxiety, depression, and stress are thought to play a role in the development and intensity of bruxism. 2 If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, speak with your dentist, and be sure to mention any symptoms.

2. Your Mouth is Burning

Burning mouth syndrome is a condition in which the mouth feels like it has been scalded, with no obvious cause. Someone experiencing burning mouth syndrome may develop the condition suddenly or gradually, and the pain may affect the lips, gums, palate, the throat, the inside of the cheeks, or the entire mouth. 3

Pain associated with Burning Mouth Syndrome may occur upon waking, all day, worsen at night, or occur intermittently.

Although disproportionately affecting women of all races, ages, and ethnicities, Burning Mouth Syndrome can affect any demographic. Research indicates that the condition often occurs in people who live in a constant state of stress. 4

3. You’ve Developed More Frequent Canker Sores

Nearly everyone will develop a canker sore at some point during their lifetime. However, if you’re noticing that your canker sores are occurring more frequently, it could be due to being under an overwhelming amount of stress.

A canker sore is a small white/gray spot that develops on the inner surface of your cheeks and lips, the sides of the tongue or the floor of your mouth and can cause extreme discomfort when eating and drinking. Using an over-the-counter numbing agent is usually enough to stave off the pain, but if it becomes severe, make an appointment with your dentist. 5

4. You See Signs of Decay

Oral health and stress directly correlate, and prolonged stress can take an immense toll on your mental health. Depression is common in adults, adolescents, and children alike. Symptoms of depression include sleeplessness, changes in appetite, rumination, feelings of hopelessness, and behavioral changes. Those suffering from depression can find it nearly impossible to accomplish daily tasks such as going to work, tending to household chores, or even keeping up with their personal hygiene, leading to dental problems such as gum disease and tooth decay.

5. Your Mouth is Dry

Your mental state has a direct connection to dry mouth. Studies have shown those who are under more stress experience a decrease in salivary flow, leading to dry mouth. 6 Saliva helps clear food particles, regulate bacteria, and neutralize acid, which all help keep your oral health in check. 7

Make an Appointment with Empire Dental Care

2020 has been an intense, stressful year all the way around. If you are experiencing changes in your stress and oral health, make an appointment with our office by calling us at 585.671.1650 or fill out our contact form.




[2] Stress and Oral Health







Dr. Cohen has been practicing dentistry in private and public settings for over 10 years, completing her DMD degree in 2010 at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel. Committed to providing dental care of the highest level, Dr. Cohen relocated to Rochester in 2016 to pursue advanced dental trainings at the Dental Urgent Care Fellowship at The University of Rochester, Eastman Institute for Oral Health, graduating in 2017, and the AEGD Residency program in 2019. She recently completed an additional advanced General Practice Residency program at St. Peter’s Hospital in Albany NY. This summer she moved back to Rochester with her husband Kevin, a native Rochesterian, to be closer to family. Throughout her career and personal life, Dr. Cohen has shown her genuine compassion and care to people and patients from all walks of life. She volunteered in underserved areas, practiced in clinics for patients with complex special needs, and treated medically compromised patients among others. She also taught and mentored other dentists and students helping them achieve their professional and personal goals. Most of all, Dr. Cohen’s warm personality and love of people create a welcoming, comfortable feeling for both patients and staff.