Stress May Wreak Havoc on Your Mouth
High Stress May Contribute to Gum 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
“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
If untreated, gum disease can lead to loss of teeth as well as bone in the
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
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