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Anxiety disorders and your oral health

Occasional anxiety is a normal part of life. But overwhelming anxiety or persistent anxiety can be disabling. When anxiety interferes with your daily activities, it may indicate a larger issue, such as generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, agoraphobia or social anxiety disorder.

The effects of anxiety on oral health

In addition to impacting your daily life, anxiety disorders can have a negative effect on your mouth. If you're currently feeling anxious and overwhelmed by stress, you might experience these oral conditions:

  • Canker sores
  • Dry mouth
  • Lichen planus (lacy white lines, red areas or mouth ulcers on the cheek, gums or tongue)
  • Burning mouth syndrome
  • Temporomandibular joint disorders (also commonly known as TMJ or TMD)
  • Bruxism (grinding or clenching of teeth)

Anxiety disorders may also lead to the neglect of dental care, which can increase your risk of cavities and gum disease. Medication that's used to treat anxiety can also affect your oral health and you should mention such prescriptions to your dentist. Some medications may also carry side effects like vomiting (which can cause tooth decay and erosion), anemia and bleeding.

Ways to keep your mouth healthy

Even if you're dealing with anxiety, you can maintain your oral health by making it a point to brush twice a day, floss daily and have your gums and teeth regularly checked by your dentist. Make sure to inform your dentist if you're taking medication for anxiety. And if visiting the dentist is a source of anxiety for you, do what you can to make it less stressful, such as scheduling appointments when you won't be rushed, bringing headphones to listen to music and discussing any concerns with your dentist.

Did you know?

  • Anxiety disorders are the most common psychiatric illnesses that affect both children and adults.
  • An estimated 40 million American adults suffer from anxiety disorders.
  • Only about a third of people who suffer from anxiety disorders receive treatment (even though such disorders are often highly treatable).

Last updated November 17, 2021

The oral health information on this website is intended for educational purposes only. Always consult a licensed dentist or other qualified health care professional for any questions concerning your oral health.