Nail biting of a man

5 Stress-Related Habits That Are Bad For Your Oral Health

Everyone understands that anxiety and worry have negative impacts on your mental health, but did you know that stress impacts teeth? If you constantly feel on-edge or overwhelmed, you’re not alone. In fact, the American Psychological Association conducted a survey that found that most Americans are suffering from high amounts of stress. This condition doesn’t just disappear or restart every day. Your body begins to manifest this worry through forming bad habits that can have severe impacts on your wellbeing. Here are five stress-related habits that can leave you with a dental emergency.


People bite their nails for a variety of reasons, but this is an especially common reaction people have when they find themselves in stressful situations. About 25 percent of the population are nail biters, and most of them aren’t considering the consequences of their bad habit:

  • The transfer of germs from your hands to your mouth can cause infections to form.
  • Bacteria and viruses on your hands can travel to other areas of your body.
  • Warts can spread from your hands to your mouth.

Routinely biting your nails can cause unnecessary wear-and-tear on your enamel, leaving them vulnerable to dental decay.

Uncomfortable Oral Sores

If you’ve noticed that you regularly get painful mouth ulcers, it could be due to a Vitamin B deficiency due to extreme stress levels. These could also be caused by changes in hormones as well as sensitivity to a certain foaming agent found in most toothpaste brands. Be sure to speak with your dentist if you notice any oral sores.

Temporomandibular Joint Disorder

When you overuse your jaw muscles by clenching your teeth when you’re stressed, it can result in your temporomandibular joints to become stiff, swollen, or cause a popping sound below your ears. These muscles also control chewing, so you may also feel general discomfort when you chew your food.

Bruxism or Teeth Grinding

Just because you lay your head on your pillow at the end of a stressful day doesn’t mean that all of your worries disappear. Instead, your body may react by grinding and clenching your teeth while you’re asleep. This condition is called Bruxism and causes unnecessary wear-and-tear on your teeth that can leave them susceptible to becoming chipped, cracked, or fractured. It can also increase your risk of dental decay and infection.

Bacterial Gum Infection

Having routine panic or stress attacks can actually weaken your immune system and leave your body defenseless to fighting off infections. When harmful oral bacteria accumulate in your mouth, they release acids and toxins that cause your gums to become irritated, swollen, and even bleed. If you notice any of these symptoms, seek treatment from your dentist immediately.

When you visit your dentist for routine checkups and cleanings, they can alert you to how your bad oral habits may be impacting the health of your teeth and gums so you can make necessary lifestyle changes. They can also treat issues like bruxism to prevent any additional oral damage that could lead to increased stress levels.

About the Author

Dr. Cody Cohen has always been passionate about bettering her patients’ lives by providing them with the best quality of dental care. She takes continuing education courses to refine her skills and keep up to date with the latest advancements in her field. She also regularly participates in volunteer work for lower-income areas. For questions or to schedule a routine checkup and cleaning, visit Mod Squad Dental’s website or call 858-682-2394.

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