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Too much stress can cause problems with your mouth, teeth, and gums. You can take some steps to keep yourself healthy, though.

While you work on lowering your stress levels, try these tips to improve trouble spots like mouth sores and teeth grinding.

Sores in Your Mouth

Canker sores. These are small spots with a white or grayish base that have red borders. They show up inside your mouth, sometimes in pairs or in greater numbers.

Experts aren't sure what causes them. It could be a problem with your immune system, your body's defense against germs. Or they might be due to bacteria or viruses. Stress likely raises your chances of getting them.

What to do. To ease irritation, don't eat spicy, hot foods or anything with a high acid content, such as tomatoes or citrus fruits. Most canker sores disappear in a week to 10 days.

For relief, try over-the-counter "numbing" medicine that you put directly on the sore. If you get canker sores often, your dentist may prescribe a steroid ointment.

Cold sores. These are also called fever blisters and are caused by the herpes simplex virus. They're filled with fluid and often show up on or around your lips. They also can appear under your nose or around your chin.

When you're feeling upset, it can trigger an outbreak.

What to do. Like canker sores, they often heal on their own in a week or so. But since you can spread the virus that causes them to other people, start treatment as soon as you notice one forming.

Medications you can try include over-the-counter remedies and prescription antiviral drugs. Ask your doctor or dentist if either type of treatment could help you.

Teeth Grinding

What is it. Stress may make you clench and grind your teeth. This can happen during the day or at night, and often without your realizing it.

If you already clench and grind your teeth, stress could make the habit worse. It can lead to problems with a joint known as TMJ that's located in front of your ear where the skull and lower jaw meet.

What to do. Your dentist may recommend a night guard, worn as you sleep, or another appliance to help you stop or curb your grinding. During the day, try to keep your teeth slightly apart when you're not eating.