From Stress to Cavities: How Anxiety Affects Your Smile

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Author – Lucy Couser

From Stress to Cavities: How Anxiety Affects Your Smile

Stress and anxiety can impact our minds and bodies in so many ways, including our smiles. While mental health doesn’t directly cause oral health problems, it can be impacted as a side effect. People who experience poor mental health are often at greater risk of neglecting their physical health and wellbeing.

Lucy Couser shares her research on anxiety and oral hygiene. Outlining some of the ways your smile can be affected, as well as tips on looking after oral health when you are struggling with mental health.

How Anxiety Affects Your Oral Health

Lowered Immune System

According to the Better Health Channel, stress and anxiety can quite significantly impact our immune system, as it can cause hormonal changes that lower our body’s resistance to certain things, which can lead to things like cavities or gum disease. Protecting our immune system is important to all areas of our health, including our oral health, which is why being aware of anxiety and getting help is so important.

Teeth Grinding

A common side effect of anxiety is teeth grinding, whether you are awake or asleep. This is also known as bruxism and is the involuntary movement of the teeth, which can eventually wear down the enamel and cause various oral health issues. When you next go to see your dentist, if you struggle with anxiety, you could always ask whether there are any signs that your teeth are being affected. There are plenty of simple solutions to tooth grinding, such as wearing a mouth guard when you sleep.

Fear Of the Dentist

If going to the dentist contributes to your anxiety, then often you will not want to go, which in turn can result in your oral health being neglected. It’s understandable that going to the dentist is easier said than done when you have anxiety, however, there are a few things that you can do to help make the process easier so that you are more inclined to go and you can protect your teeth.

You could do some research on practices that welcome nervous patients, whether you are looking for dentists in Leamington Spa, Lancashire or London. They will have procedures in place to make you feel more comfortable about your visit, which can really help.

Dry Mouth

Anxiety can also cause a dry mouth, which is where your body does not produce enough saliva to keep the mouth wet. This is a common experience with people going through periods of stress or anxiety. However, if persistent it can be difficult to chew and swallow, which can prevent residue from the things you eat and drink being washed away leading to different oral health problems. You can counteract this by drinking plenty of water, and avoiding tobacco and alcohol.

Final Thoughts

When you are struggling with stress or anxiety, it can make small daily tasks feel overwhelming, especially when much of your energy is being spent on your feelings. Our oral health can be one of those things that can unintentionally become less of a priority. There are many more examples of the impact between mental and physical health. This is why you should never be afraid to ask for help with your mental health and wellbeing.


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