Is Anxiety Harming Your Teeth And Gums?

Is Anxiety Harming Your Teeth And Gums?

With a rise in anxiety, we look at the way some of our Canterbury patients might be affected by it.

There has been a lot in the news recently about the rise in anxiety in children, with many of them regularly missing school. There has also been a rise in the number of people on sick leave from work, in some cases, from anxiety and other mental health issues. This is a complex subject and recent factors like the Covid lockdowns may have played a part. We aren’t qualified to look too deeply into this, but what we can do is to examine the impact that anxiety can have on our oral health.

We hope that this advice will encourage you to look at minimising any impact anxiety might be currently having on your teeth and gums, and to also explain the ways that we can help you at Bradley and Partners Dental Implant Clinic.

Dental anxiety

If you have always been uncomfortable about visiting the dentist, the rise in overall anxiety will probably not have improved this. Each year, appointments get cancelled or sometimes not even made. A good example of this might be where the patient has (perhaps reluctantly) had a check up at the dentist and been told they need to make an appointment to have a filling. Needing to receive an invasive treatment is likely to raise anxiety levels and it is quite likely that some patients leave the dental chair and walk right out of the practice without booking that appointment.

Naturally, this is never going to end well. Brushing and flossing your teeth well at home is certainly an excellent start to maintaining healthy teeth and gums but few people will avoid the need for some treatment to preserve a tooth at some point in their life. As we have noted before, using the example above, the patient may feel that the tooth doesn’t hurt so they can ignore it. It is very likely that this same patient will be calling us in a few weeks or months in a lot of pain when toothache finally strikes. Not only does this mean significant discomfort, but the small filling they initially required is now almost certainly going to be more extensive and it is quite possible that the tooth may not be able to be saved.

Maintaining regular dental appointments is the best way to maintain a healthy mouth. If you are an anxious patient, please discuss this with our receptionists. We will always do what we can to help you.

Teeth grinding

Anxiety can cause a number of ticks and twitches in some people, but one of the most damaging habits that it sometimes causes is teeth grinding, or ‘bruxism’. This generally occurs when we are asleep which makes it very difficult to control. It can cause significant damage to the teeth, such as enamel wear and chipping or breaking the teeth. In severe cases, it can also cause teeth to ‘shatter’, especially if they are already weakened. While resolving the underlying issue is the best way to stop this, we can also help by restoring damaged teeth and can also advise on the wearing of a mouth guard to prevent the teeth coming together.


Anxiety can also cause jaw problems and most commonly TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint Disorder). This can cause some pain in the jaw, but also sometimes issues with clicking jaws and difficulty in chewing and eating.

Dry mouth and gum disease

Most of us have probably experienced moments of anxiety where our mouths go dry; perhaps, for example, before a big job interview. This is not unusual and is a natural reaction of the body. Under normal circumstances, this will only happen occasionally, but if you suffer from anxiety it is likely to arise more often. Not only is this not a particularly pleasant sensation, but if it occurs regularly, it will raise the risk of gum disease as bacteria will thrive in this environment. The best way to ensure that this is well managed during a period of anxiety is to see our dental hygienist on a regular basis; something all patients should do as well.

Eating habits

Finally, most of us would probably acknowledge that worry and anxiety changes the way we eat, and what we eat. We would probably spend less time preparing a healthy meal and instead, settle for whatever we feel ‘comforts’ us. In many cases, this is likely to be high sugar foods, including chocolate which we know has a ‘feel good factor’ but also a lot of sugar too. This increased sugar means that problems like tooth decay are much more likely than if you eat a healthy and tooth friendly diet.

It is not hard to see, from the above, how badly your teeth and gums can be affected if you suffer from anxiety, and especially if dental anxiety is a problem for you. You can certainly aim to take as much control as possible by making sure that you brush and floss your teeth well, but regular appointments at our Canterbury dentists are essential too. Not only can our friendly team help you to relax when being examined or treated, but we also have a sedationist  here who is trained to apply IV sedation for patients who need to undergo an invasive treatment but who are extremely anxious about it. We are always happy to discuss this if you wish to.

There is no time to address your oral health like the present. Why not take the first step today by calling Bradley and Partners Dental & Implant Clinic on 01227 463529.