4 Dental Conditions That Can Be Caused by Stress

dental conditions caused by stress

4 Dental Conditions That Can Be Caused by Stress

This is a stressful time for all of us—and stress can take a toll on our dental health, just as with our overall health. At Hicks Dental Group in Prescott, we want you to be aware of some of the dental conditions caused by stress so that you can maintain optimal dental health and keep that smile sparkling until we can see you for routine dental care again. 

1. Bruxism

Bruxism, or grinding your teeth in your sleep, is a dental condition that is usually caused by stress or anxiety. It’s an unconscious action and can happen either when you’re awake or asleep. Since you may not even be aware that your teeth and jaw are working overtime while you’re sleeping, symptoms to look out for are: 

  • Headaches
  • Unexplained facial pain
  • Sore jaw
  • Neck aches
  • Earaches
  • Pain and stiffness in the jaw joint (temporomandibular joint) and surrounding muscles, which can lead to Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD)
  • Disrupted sleep (for you or your partner)
  • Worn-down teeth, which can lead to increased sensitivity and even tooth loss
  • Broken teeth or fillings


Mild cases of bruxism don’t usually need to be treated. But in some cases, chronic teeth grinding can result in fracturing, loosening, or loss of teeth. And eventually, chronic grinding could wear teeth down to stumps. Here are some ideas for what you can do on your own to help with grinding your teeth in your sleep. 

2. Mouth sores

One of the main causes (or triggers) of mouth sores is emotional stress. Mouth sores can be extremely painful and even embarrassing. There are two common kinds of mouth sores:

  • Canker sores—(or ulcers) They arise on the inside or outside of the mouth, and are generally caused by stress. However, there can be other causes like hormone changes, allergies, or nutritional deficiencies. 
  • Cold sores—fluid-filled sores, typically break out on the lips, and are caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). Cold sores can only be triggered by stress if you already have the herpes virus. 


3. Gum disease 

Stress can either cause gum disease or exacerbate existing gum disease. Stress is known to weaken the immune system, which makes you more likely to develop gum disease. Studies at several major universities discovered a positive correlation between emotional factors and the development of (periodontal) disease in adults. Researchers also discovered that the severity of gum disease increased as stress increased.

4. TMD

Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD), sometimes referred to as TMJ, is a painful dental condition often caused by stress and anxiety due to clenching or grinding of the teeth. The temporomandibular joints are located directly in front of each ear and connect the jaw bone and the skull together. This joint allows you to move your jaw so that you can talk, chew and yawn—all very common activities that can become extremely painful with TMD.  

Some common symptoms of TMD include: 

  • Pain or soreness in one or both jaw joints
  • Pain in and around your ear
  • Pain with chewing
  • Aches in your facial muscles 
  • Difficulty opening or closing your mouth
  • Clicking/popping sounds when you open or close your mouth
  • Locked jaw


Call us for Emergencies

We hope that being mindful of these dental conditions caused by stress will help you to prevent them in the first place. Ensure you are taking care of your mental health through professional counseling or activities like yoga, meditation or walking—and maintain good oral hygiene, as this is often one of the first things we let slide when we are stressed. In the meantime, stay healthy and safe and be sure to give our team at Hicks Dental Group a call if you need emergency dental care.