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Stress and its Link to Gum Disease

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If you have a good dental hygiene routine and you do everything you’re supposed to do to take care of your teeth and gums, but you still have gum disease, you may want to check your stress levels.

Elevated levels of stress are associated with the development of gum disease and periodontal disease.

Some dental professionals think that the state of your mouth mirrors the state of your overall general health and particularly illnesses that are caused by stress. If your stress is chronic and on-going, it may depress your immune system which in turn can cause an overgrowth of plaque (that is normally kept in check by the immune system). This can lead to the gums becoming inflamed and they may back away from the teeth.

Another reason that stress can cause gum disease is that when people are stressed, they don’t always pay enough attention to the quality of their diet and there may be nutrients lacking that are needed for good oral health. If stress is causing you to comfort-eat high sugar foods, this can result in tooth decay and gum disease.

If you are drinking more alcohol than usual it could reduce the amount of saliva you have. Saliva protects you against gum disease by neutralizing the acid production of plaque bacteria. It also washes away leftover bits of food after you have eaten, reducing the bacteria build up in your mouth, and it re-mineralizes teeth to prevent the initial stages of tooth decay.

The association between stress and gum disease is well-known in medical literature. A study at the Department of Operative Dentistry in Germany found that life-event stress may result in an unfavorable outcome in chronic periodontal disease (the second stage of gum disease, where the jaw bone is eaten away by bacteria).

120 patients with periodontal disease and 122 patients without it were examined and given questionnaires to fill in that used a scoring system, zero being the most positive feelings and ten being the most negative feelings.

Those in the placebo group who had no periodontal disease scored substantially lower scores, indicating that they felt more positive than those who had periodontal disease.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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