We Can’t Stress This Enough About Your Oral Health

by Dr. Yasaman Garakani on February 15, 2016

Did you know that stress has an impact on gum disease? The culprit is a lowered immune system that makes it easier for gum disease to take hold – and harder to treat.

The link between stress and a weakened immune system goes back many years. In the early 1980s, psychologist Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, PhD, and immunologist Ronald Glaser, PhD noted animal studies that showed a link between stress and infection. Intrigued, they spent the next 10 years researching this link and studying the effects on humans. For example, they noticed that when their students were in the dreaded three-day exam period, they had fewer healthy, disease-fighting cells. Even worse, the students nearly stopped producing some of their bodies’ natural immunity boosters. Their research lead to further studies within the medical community[1]

These findings are important because stressors are all around us. Common issues that compromise our immune system through stress include:

  • Isolation and loneliness
  • Job dissatisfaction
  • Relationship dissatisfaction
  • Debt and money trouble
  • Heavy schoolwork/course load
  • Abuse at home or in the workplace
  • Technology overload/always feeling “on call”
  • A cluttered or dirty home or work environment


For the sake of your health, it is vitally important to address your stressors. Failing to reduce your stress not only compromises your immune system, which leads to illness, it leads to damaging behaviour such as eating disorders, substance abuse and social withdrawal – all things that stress you out even more!

As dentists, we see firsthand the damage stress has on your teeth and gums. A lowered immune system is an open invitation for gum disease and if left untreated, some of the damage can be permanent. We need to treat you promptly if you are suffering from stress because your lowered immune system makes it harder to reverse the disease. The situation gets much worse if choose to smoke or take recreational drugs to cope with your stress. The effect of tobacco and drugs on your teeth is devastating.

Please visit your dentist more than twice a year if you are suffering from stress. This way your dental professional can monitor your mouth and stay ahead of any deterioration.

Smile Dental Centre offers a full range of dental services backed by outstanding patient care for children and adults. Smile Dental Centre won the Consumer Choice Award four years in a row (2013 – 2016) for general and cosmetic dentistry in the London, ON region. Now that’s something to smile about!

[1] http://www.apa.org/research/action/immune.aspx

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