Stress and Oral Health / Maxillofacial Diseases

Anecdotal reports suggest an increase in young adults presenting with stress related oral conditions.

Contributing factors to the risk of stress related Oral Health conditions:

Caffeine and energy drink fuelled distressing or very busy times, poor diet habits as well as bad oral hygiene, fatigue and tension related jaw clenching.


AUG is an acronym for acute ulcerative gingivitis which is an acute and severe gum infection.This is also known as ‘Trench Mouth’.Nowadays, it is more commonly seen in 18-35 year olds.

Signs and symptoms:

  • Sudden onset, very painful and can be accompanied by bad breath and a metallic taste in the mouth

  • Inflamed, reddened spontaneously bleeding gums

  • Perhaps enlarged lymph glands, fever, and general feeling of being unwell

  • May be localised to one tooth or involve a number of teeth, even the entire mouth and can recur

Factors causing AUG include:

  • Stress

  • Poor oral hygiene with heavy deposits of plaque

  • Poor nutrition in combination with smoking

  • Underlying systemic diseases

Treatment and prevention:

People suffering from AUG need to see their dentist immediately. The Dental Surgeon will assess the infection and recommend the appropriate treatment. Ongoing management by patients may include the use of special mouth rinses, thorough oral hygiene practices, healthy diet and quitting smoking.

2-Dry Mouth Syndrome:

Also known as Xerostomia ( Greek term ), Dry Mouth Syndrome refers to reduced saliva flow to the mouth, which leads to a ‘dry’ mouth. It can have a serious impact on the oral health because of an increased susceptibility to dental cavities.This is the reason is why it’s important to control this condition.

Signs and symptoms:

  • Dryness in the mouth, permanent or transient

  • Difficult eating, speaking, chewing and swallowing

  • Extremaly frequent need to sip water. Waking at night with a very dry mouth

  • Sore and painful (burning) mouth, chapped or cracked lips / tongue

  • Recurrent dental cavities and/or oral yeast infections

Factors causing Dry Mouth Syndrome:

In young adults the causes are usually associated with stress, anxiety, depression, and nutritional deficiencies. Energy drinks may exacerbate the condition because of their high caffeine levels. Alcohol abuse and use of illicit drugs also are significant contributors to Dry Mouth Syndrome.

Treatment and prevention:

  • Good oral hygiene - regular flossing and brushing of teeth.A good fluoride toothpaste is recommended.

  • Often dental check ups to help prevent dental cavities, which tend to increase with Dry Mouth Syndrome

  • Avoiding caffeine containing drinks (colas, coffee, tea).

  • Hydration by drinking many glasses of water a day.

  • Following a healthy diet.Avoiding white sugar.

  • Avoiding irritants = alcohol and tobacco

  • Avoiding sugar-containing lozenges or sports and energy drinks

  • Quitting smoking.

Nicotine increases the thickness of saliva and makes it more acidic and less effective in remineralisation.

The use of sugar free gum to stimulate saliva, ‘clean’ the teeth and neutralise acids.


Temporo Mandibular Disorder (TMD) or Temporo Mandibular Joint Syndrome ( TMG Syndrome ) is a musculo-skeletal disorder of the jaw area. It is characterised by a wide range of symptoms including headaches, jaw and earor even teeth pain. TMD can also be the result of grinding teeth and jaw clenching ( during daytime and sleeping )– both in themselves symptoms of stress.

Signs and Symptoms:

The symptoms of TMD are wide and may include:

  • Headaches

  • Sore and/or clicking jaw, especially the jaw point of the side of the face

  • Earache

  • Toothache!

  • Stiffness and difficulty opening the mouth & tooth wear. In extreme cases there may be cracked teeth due to pressure caused by grinding teeth

Factors causing TMD:

Teeth clenching and teeth grinding can cause TMD. Both of these can be caused by stress.

Treatment and prevention:

If you are experiencing headaches, earaches or jaw pain it’s important to ensure that these are not the result of other causes - seek advice from your GP. If the cause appears related to jaw clenching and tooth grinding, then it’s important to see your Dental Surgeon who will advise on treatment and prevention options. Relaxation exercises will be included.

In particular it is very important to control and reduce the stress of your Life and on your teeth so they are not as susceptible to fracture.

For information on this subject please contact Dr Eva A. Douvara DMD PhD, owner and principle of the Dental Clinic Dr Douvaras.

Tel: +30 210 7224224 - Mob: +30 6932 486648