Anxiety And Stress – Their Effect On Your Teeth And Gums

Stress associated with the Covid-19 crisis may have left some patients with a less healthy mouth.

Concerned womanMany of us are probably watching the news on a daily, or even hourly basis, to see what changes there are to the current advice about ‘lockdown’. It does appear that some measures are going to be eased early next week which is being heralded as good news by some.

On closer inspection though, these measures, if adhered to correctly, are relatively minor and the reality is that we will probably be in a reasonably strict lockdown situation for a number of weeks yet. But we wait to see.

Any safe advance that can be made to give us more freedom is to be welcomed, as long as it doesn’t cause setbacks. Many patients of our local Wickford dentists will be struggling with the current situation and, in some cases, the levels of stress and anxiety have probably become quite high.

Aside from any general health issues that this might cause, it is a fact that undue stress and anxiety can have a negative affect on our teeth and our gums. Our Cygnet Dental Practice team explains more below.


When under stress, many of us clench our jaws and grind our teeth. Sometimes this happens when we are awake but predominantly occurs whilst we sleep.  This factor makes it hard to control, especially when the stress is caused by an external source such as the current situation.

In the most extreme cases, this grinding, also known as Bruxism, can cause breakages or chipping of the teeth. This is perhaps more likely on teeth that are already compromised, but severe grinding could damage even healthy teeth. Another possible outcome is TMJ which is a problem with the jaw that can be quite painful for those suffering from it.

Tooth decay and gum disease

There are two ways in which lockdown could be having an effect on our teeth and gums. One is the fact that, for many of us, our routines will have been greatly altered and, if we are working from home for example, we may have lost that ‘trigger’ moment when we usually brush our teeth, perhaps before leaving for work. As long as you work out a new routine with regular brushing times though, this should be relatively easily overcome.

Perhaps more of a problem is that when we are stressed, we often tend to try to ease that through eating and drinking less than healthy foods. Many of these will also be very high in sugar content.

Being indoors for lengthy periods can flatten our mood and when we are feeling unmotivated, it is sometimes all too easy to reach for a packet of biscuits when we are watching TV rather than get up and make a salad or a healthy meal. Not only are these types of foods problematic because of the level of sugars in them, but they are also the ones we typically snack on over a long period of time. Unlike a meal, where we eat it and then leave a period of time before eating again, allowing saliva to ‘flush’ away residual food debris, this type of ‘grazing’ means that our teeth and gums receive a continuous supply of sugar with little or no time for recovery.

The bacteria that harm our teeth and that can lead to gum disease thrive on this excess sugar and additional problems are caused in our mouths. No one is saying that we shouldn’t allow ourselves a few treats at this difficult time, especially where it helps to relieve stress, but do try to eat as sensibly as you can. Remember that the Cygnet Dental Practice is currently unable to treat non urgent cases and you may have to manage any non urgent problems for a while.

On that note, unfortunately we do not have any further updates regarding when we will be able to open our Wickford practice again. Announcements are expected soon and with some signs of easing the lockdown, we hope that it won’t be too long before we can see you again. We will of course keep you updated on our website and via our blog.

When we do re-open, we will do our best to prioritise patients with immediate problems such as decay or breakages, but this may be dependent on being allowed to carry out the relevant procedures.

Until we are able to open again, please take care and stay safe. We may be starting to ease the current situation soon, but we ask you to follow Government guidelines and keep your safety and that of others a priority for the time being.

If you have an urgent dental concern that you feel may requires emergency treatment, please contact us for further information on 01268 733078. Our team are on hand to provide you with advice.