Stress seems to be a major part of modern life, with hectic schedules, overwhelming daily demands, and little time to decompress. The negative health effects of excessive stress are well-known and often discussed, including hypertension (high blood pressure) and an increased risk of heart disease and failure. However, daily stress can also take a toll on your dental health in numerous ways, some of which may not become obvious until damage has been done.

What is Stress?

The feeling we know as stress is actually defense mechanism commonly called the fight-or-flight response. When you perceive a threat, your body releases adrenaline into your blood stream and your heart rate increases, all in preparation to either defend yourself or run for your life. This response was probably more often useful to our ancestors, who would have faced wild predatory animals and other natural dangers on a frequent basis. In today’s world, however, strict deadlines, demanding bosses, and a host of other stressful motivators can cause your mind and body to feel as though they’re under attack, triggering the same heightened processes but for prolonged periods of time.

How Stress Affects Your Dental Health

One of the more common effects of stress is muscle tension and/or spasms, including the muscles that control your jaw. People often clench their jaws and grind their teeth in moments of anger, stress, apprehension, and other negative emotions. When you’re under continued stress, teeth-grinding can become habitual (known as bruxism). The undue pressure that bruxism places on your teeth can wear them down, leaving them vulnerable to infection and decay. Your teeth can also crack or break from this pressure, and your jaw’s joints and muscles can suffer from the strain and develop TMJ disorder. Not to mention, preoccupation with the motivators of your stress can cause you to neglect proper oral hygiene, increasing your risk of developing destructive dental issues like tooth decay and gum disease.


Dental Associates of Moreno Valley is committed to offering patients of all ages the comprehensive dental care they need for gorgeous, healthy smiles. To learn more about our services or to schedule a consultation, call our Moreno Valley office today at (951) 697-6800. We are also happy to welcome patients from Riverside, Temecula, Corona, and surrounding areas.