The Effects of Stress on Your Mouth

Stress and anxiety are hard on your body and can cause a variety of health problems, including headaches, heartburn, muscle tension and even irregular menstrual periods. And did you know that stress can also affect your teeth and gums? Here, Dr. Ivan Stein and the team at Headache & TMJ Center for New Jersey explain the effects of stress on your mouth.


Stress often leads to bruxism, or teeth clenching and grinding, at night or during the day. It may happen without you even realizing it. Constantly clenching or grinding your teeth can wear down the enamel, causing tooth sensitivity or making the teeth look worn. Also, it can put extreme stress on the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) which is the junction between the skull and lower jaw. Stressing the TMJ can lead to extreme pain, headaches and migraines as well as problems with the way the teeth fit together when the mouth is closed.

Canker Sores

Canker sores are small white or gray spots with red borders that appear inside the mouth either individually or in small clusters. They often develop because of trauma (biting the inside of the cheek or brushing zealously). Experts have found that stress is likely to increase the chances of developing canker sores. The Academy of General Dentistry published a study that found canker sores are prevalent in students during the school year — but are less frequent during breaks and after graduation, when stress is presumably less of a problem.

Gum Disease

Research has found a link between stress and gum (periodontal) disease. Studies from several leading universities discovered that stress played a large role in the development of periodontal disease, and the severity of the disease increased with the amount of stress in a person’s life. These studies also found that stress from financial problems presented the greatest risk for developing gum disease.

Managing stress through yoga, meditation, therapy or exercise is helpful in reducing the risk of related problems in the mouth. If, however, you have experienced jaw pain or constant headaches that you believe might be linked to problems with your jaw joint, Dr. Stein of the Headache & TMJ Center of New Jersey should perform an evaluation. Please call (855) TMJ-DOCS or (855) 865-3627 today to request a consultation with the doctor.