Stress and gum disease

Emotional factors can play a significant role in the development of gum (periodontal) disease and the severity can increase with amount of stress you are experiencing. Stress can make it more difficult for our bodies to fight infection and may also cause individuals to engage in habits that can lead to gum disease such as smoking, poor dietary habits and forgetting to clean teeth properly.


Poor diet and oral hygiene

It’s important to continue to practice good oral hygiene. Stress can affect your mood and cause you to skip brushing, flossing, and rinsing. If you don’t take good care of your mouth and teeth, you raise your chances of getting cavities or gum disease.

When you’re stressed, you may also pick up some unhealthy eating habits, such as snacking on sugary foods or drinks, which increases the likelihood of tooth decay. In the long run it can increase your chances of gum disease.


If you’re feeling tense or anxious, you should keep a watchful eye for signs of the following stress-related disorders. Depending on your symptoms, we can recommend specific treatments.

Canker sores (Mouth ulcers). These are small shallow ulcers. They present inside the mouth, sometimes in pairs or in greater numbers and can make eating and talking uncomfortable.

There are two types simple canker sores and complex canker sores. The exact cause of most canker sores is unknown. It could be a problem with the immune system or due to bacteria or viruses. Stress and tissue injury are the most common causes of the simple variety. Most canker sores will disappear within 10 days. For relief, we recommend avoiding spicy foods or anything with a high acid content, such as citrus fruits and use an over-the-counter “numbing” analgesic ointment.

Complex canker sores are typically caused by an underlying health condition, such as an impaired immune system, dietary problems or gastrointestinal tract disease, such as Celiac or Crohns disease.

Cold sores. Also called fever blisters. These fluid filled blisters are caused by herpes simplex type 1 and are extremely contagious. They often show up on or around the lip area. Like canker sores, they often heal in a week or so. Because they are contagious we recommend you start treatment as soon as you notice one forming.

Teeth grinding (Bruxism). If you already clench your jaw or grind your teeth, stress could make the habit worse. Bruxism can be caused by sleep disorders, an abnormal bite or missing or crooked teeth. It can also be caused by stress and anxiety. Nervous tension, anger and frustration can cause people to start showing the signs of bruxism without even knowing it. In some instances it can lead to problems with a joint (see below) located in front of your ear where the skull and lower jaw meet.

Temporomandibular disorders (TMD). TMD refers to a group of conditions that affects the jaw joint (temporomandibular joint) and the associated muscles used in moving the jaw and neck. Stress is thought to be a factor in TMD. Stressful situations can aggravate TMD by causing overuse of jaw muscles, specifically clenching or grinding teeth, as with bruxism. But even if you aren’t seeing signs of bruxism, such as flat tips of teeth or decreasing tooth enamel, you may still experience other symptoms, such as jaw joint pain or popping and clicking of the jaw. If you experience any of these, you should check with your dentist to see if TMD may be the cause.

To find out more about periodontal treatment please call us on 020 7247 7400 to speak with our friendly team or fill out our contact form.