Stress can have a negative impact on nearly every part of your body, including your teeth. When you’re under a lot of pressure or stress, you’re more likely to increase your risk of tooth damage in a couple different ways.
One of the most common ways stress leads to damaged teeth is grinding. Stress can cause you to clench your jaw or grind your teeth in your sleep without you even realizing it. This can wear down the surfaces of your teeth and increase your risk of cracking them. Over time, you might experience signs of teeth grinding, such as waking up with a sore jaw, having headaches or earaches, having muscle pain in your face and having increased tooth sensitivity. If you have teeth that are worn down or damaged from stress-related tooth grinding, it’s important to seek dental care in order to reduce the risk of more serious problems, such as infections.
While dealing with extra stress, you are more likely to eat foods that are bad for your teeth, such as starchy or sugary foods, and fewer foods that are good for your oral hygiene, such as fresh fruits and vegetables. You might also be less likely to brush and floss your teeth properly or regularly. When you combine a poor diet with poor oral hygiene, you significantly increase your risk of tooth decay and gum disease. Starchy and sugary foods leave behind food particles on your teeth that bacteria feed on. Brushing and flossing help to remove these and lowers your risk of tooth and gum problems.
If you skip or delay routine cleanings and exams, your risk of tooth decay and gum disease is even higher. Without regular cleanings and exams, more plaque and tartar build up on your teeth and dental problems that need treatment go undetected.
Dental problems, such as gum disease and tooth decay, can raise your risk of developing other health issues. Bacteria from gum or tooth infections can spread to other parts of your body, which can lead to serious infections. Keep in mind that certain dental problems, including gum disease, have been linked to heart disease and other health issues. If you have diabetes, osteoporosis or other chronic conditions, these can make you more susceptible to developing infections or tooth damage. When you’re coping with stress in addition to having one of these conditions, your risk of tooth problems is even higher.