With summer coming, we like to think that life might slow down a bit. The kids are out of school…your summer vacation plans are coming up and you are excited about that.

For most of us, our work schedules slow down in the summer. Unfortunately, that is not a situation that applies for all of us. And even if we enjoy less stress in the summer, before you know it, fall will be here bringing back a full schedule of events…and stress!

While some stress can be good for us, most of us are aware that too much stress can have a negative impact on our hearts or blood pressure. However, what you may not be aware of is that too much stress can also impact your oral health.

Stress can affect your oral health in either a direct or indirect manner. For instance, one indirect affect is that people under stress are more likely to neglect their hygiene routines or make unhealthy food choices.  Either of these can have a negative impact upon oral health.

For instance, a failure to properly brush and/or floss on a regular basis can leave behind more food particles on the teeth and gums. This can attract bacteria and lead to tooth decay and gum disease.

With respect to food choices, highly stressed individuals tend to choose foods of convenience. That usually means more processed foods with higher sugar or starch content. Unhealthy eating habits like this can also compromise your oral health.

These indirect affects show how stress can impact our lifestyle choices. However, stress can also have a direct impact on the well being of your mouth. For instance, people who experience higher levels of stress are more susceptible to a condition known as bruxism.

Bruxsim refers to the grinding of the teeth, usually at night while sleeping. It can lead to headaches, earaches, chronic facial pain and even the uneven wearing of the teeth. Many people suffering from bruxism wear night guards while they sleep to help alleviate the symptoms.

Stress has also been linked to dry mouth by affecting the ability to produce saliva. Saliva is very important to keeping the mouth clean and people with dry mouth are also more likely to suffer other oral health care concerns, including bad breath.

Canker sores are also more common with stress. The link between cankers and stress is not clearly understood. And while cankers are usually harmless, they can be painful.

Of course, stress can compromise your immune system. And when immune systems are not working efficiently, gum disease can become a problem as you are less able to deal with the bacteria that can build up in your mouth. A strong, unstressed immune system can be one of your best defenses against gum disease.

So if you think stress is causing you to suffer from any of these conditions, talk to your dentist. These problems might only add to your stress and your dentist wants to help alleviate it. Because alleviating stress is a healthy habit…and healthy habits lead to healthy lives.

Dr. George Parry

Dental Surgeon


For the last couple of years now, we have been dealing with such negative economic news. Many people feel the pinch of this news as they either face layoffs from their jobs or there is a threat of such layoffs persistently hanging overhead. And this can be stressful!

Most of us are aware that stress can affect our hearts and our blood pressure. But many of you may not be aware that stress can also affect your oral health.

The impact of stress on oral health may be indirect. For instance, people under stress are more likely to neglect their hygiene routines or make unhealthy food choices.  Bad eating habits can creep in as we search for “comfort foods”. Unfortunately, comfort foods tend to be high in sugar which is never friendly for our teeth.

When those sugary foods are combined with the tendency of individuals under stress to forgo regular brushing and/or flossing, more sticky food particles can be left on the teeth.  This can attract the bacteria that lead to tooth decay and gum disease.

Individual under stress are also more likely to grind their teeth, particularly while they sleep. This is known as bruxism and it can lead to headaches, earaches, chronic facial pain and even the uneven wearing of the teeth. Many people suffering from bruxism wear night guards while they sleep to help alleviate the symptoms.

Even dry mouth and cankers can result from stress. Cankers tend to be harmless, albeit rather painful. As for dry mouth, the loss of the cleansing effects of saliva can result in bad breath and other more serious oral health issues, such as biofilm, tartar and the gum disease they can produce.

Of course, stress can compromise your immune system. And when immune systems are not working efficiently, gum disease can become a problem. Your body needs to be operating efficiently in order to combat the bacteria that attacks it from all directions, including the mouth. The stronger your immune system, the more ready you are to do battle with the multiple species of bacteria that find the mouth to be a wonderful home!

Just remember that smiling is one of the simplest ways to help alleviate stress. But if poor oral health has left you with a smile you would rather not show off, you are less likely to take advantage of this form of stress relief. So talk to your dentist if you are experiencing any of these conditions due to stress…and let your dentist help you put on a smile that will keep that stress away!

Because alleviating stress is a healthy habit…and healthy habits lead to healthy lives.

Dr. David Lui

Dental Surgeon