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Stress May Wreak Havoc on Your Mouth

High Stress May Contribute to Gum Disease
By
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Stress Periodontal Disease

Aug. 13, 2007 -- Too much stress may not only spoil your mood, it may also spoil your smile.

There is mounting evidence that there’s a strong link between stress and gum disease, according to a new review of research on the issue.

Researchers found 57% of recent studies reviewed showed a positive relationship between gum disease and stress and related psychological symptoms like distress, anxiety, depression, and loneliness.

Although it’s difficult to pinpoint the negative effects of stress on your gums, researchers say the studies suggest that elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol may be involved.

In addition, stress may make people more lax about their oral health habits.

“Individuals with high stress levels tend to increase their bad habits, which can be harmful to periodontal health. They are less attentive to their oral hygiene and may increase their use of nicotine, alcohol, or drugs,” says Preston D. Miller Jr., DDS, president of the American Academy of Periodontology, in a news release. “Patients should seek healthy ways to relieve stress through exercise, balanced eating, plenty of sleep, and maintaining a positive mental attitude.”

Stress Harms Gums

Researchers reviewed 14 studies published between 1990 and 2006 on the relationship between stress and gum disease in adults. The results, published in the Journal of Periodontology, indicated that most showed a positive relationship between stress and psychological factors and gum disease.

“More research is needed to determine the definitive relationship between stress and periodontal diseases,” says researcher Daiane Peruzzo, PhD, of the State University of Campinas, Piracicaba in Brazil, in the news release. “However, patients who minimize stress may be at less risk for periodontal diseases.”

If untreated, gum disease can lead to loss of teeth as well as bone in the jaw. Symptoms of gum disease include tender, bleeding gums, swollen gums, bad breath, and loose teeth.

  • If stress can affect your gums, what does the stress of actually being at the dentist do to your smile? Discuss your mouth fears at the Health Cafe: Meet Your Neighbors message board.

How Do I Measure Up? Get the Facts Fast!

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Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

SOURCES:

American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

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