The oral effects of stress

February 28, 2012

Dental, Health, Stress

Even the teeth and bones and the muscles they attach to are not immune from the ill effects of stress.

by Dr. Nicholas Meyer — 

We all know how bad stress can be on the body, and that it can manifest in any number of ways. Even the teeth and bones and the muscles they attach to are not immune from the ill effects of stress.

It is well known that the human body is designed to respond with the fight or flight response — we either brace for action or we turn tail and “get out of Dodge.” When we are subjected to continued periods of stress, the body gets stuck in this mode, which has been called “sympathetic on.” In this state, our system is like an old scratched record playing the same small segment over and over. The result is that we cannot get out of the groove or move ahead.

Over the past several months, I have observed firsthand how stress affects oral health. A frequent problem has been an increase in cases of teeth dying due to clenching.

TMJ problems are also an insidious condition caused by an imbalance in the function of the bones, muscles and teeth that, in turn, affects a person’s whole being. It can make formerly happy, healthy people feel like they are going crazy, as their systems seem to veer out of control.

And, in fact, our systems can go out of control. It takes great patience and focus to reestablish the balance of the structural components of the body and the psyche, but it can be done. Humans are very resilient.

It’s likely that we can attribute the uptick in poor oral health to a weak economy. All is not lost, however. A good dentist can help treat stress-related conditions of the teeth. With proper care, the body does heal, along with the teeth.


Nicholas Meyer, D.D.S., is a general dentist in Scottsdale, Ariz., with a special interest in the functional aspects of the oral cavity that contribute to such maladies as TMJ, snoring and sleep apnea. 480-948-0560 or

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 28, Number 5, Oct/Nov 2009.

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