Stress and Oral Health | How Stress Can Affect Your Teeth

Stress And Your Teeth

Stress has many negative effects on general health. But did you know that stress might also affect your oral health?

At your dental checkup, don’t be surprised when your dentist asks you whether you are stressed. Your dentist may notice visible signs of stress in your mouth. They’ll also gather clues from symptoms that you might report to them during your check-up.

Even symptoms that seem unrelated to the mouth and teeth, such as headaches, may be associated with stress. Even more surprising, a headache may be a sign that your teeth and any fillings or restorations are in danger of being damaged by the effects of stress.

Stress and Oral Health: The Signs

Some oral conditions are signs of stress, such as:

  • tooth wear
  • chipped or cracked teeth or fillings
  • facial and jaw pain
  • persistent headaches, especially upon waking
  • the presence of cold sores or mouth ulcers, and/or
  • popping, creaking, locking or pain of the jaw joints.

It is important to see your dentist at the first sign of any discomfort in your mouth as these conditions can be a sign of an underlying health problem affecting more than just your teeth.

Other Damaging Effects of Stress On Teeth

Stress can sometimes have an indirect effect on oral health.

A person experiencing chronic stress might find they are less motivated to clean their teeth properly or regularly. This can lead to the presence of dental disease, including tooth decay and gum disease.

Similarly, many people under stress find that they “comfort eat”, and this often means they consume sugary or processed foods and beverages rather than more nourishing, tooth-friendly options.

How Can A Dentist Help?

Did you know that your dentist can help protect your teeth, fillings and other restorations from being damaged by stress-associated jaw clenching and grinding (called “bruxism”)? Learn about one solution on our page about Occlusal Splints.


  • This page was first published on July 11, 2013
  • It was revised and updated on November 4, 2019