Stress is a fact of life, and by now, we all know the damage that stress can have on our overall health. It weakens the immune system, causes high blood pressure, and can even contribute to heart disease. But you may wonder: can stress cause teeth pain?

Believe it or not, your dentist can tell if you’re under a significant amount of stress. Stress does indeed impact your dental health in a variety of ways. Keep reading to learn how stress impacts your dental health and what you can do to minimize the damage.


Bruxism is a condition that causes people to clench or grind their teeth, usually in their sleep. This can be a sign of stress, anxiety, or anger, and you may suffer from bruxism without even knowing it. Since you may be unaware of your conditions, it’s important to know the symptoms of grinding your teeth, which are:

  • Clicking sound or pain when opening and closing the jaw
  • Waking up frequently with headaches
  • Tips of the teeth appearing flattened
  • Teeth beginning to feel sensitive or painful

Bruxism cannot be cured, but it can be treated with the use of a night guard worn to bed. Your general dentist might prescribe a night guard to prevent your teeth from coming into contact with each other, minimizing the long-term damage.

Gum Disease (Gingivitis)

Stress plays a large role in the development of gum disease. Like anything else, the earlier your dentist is able to detect and treat gum disease, the easier it will be. It’s important to make an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible if you experience any of the following symptoms of gum disease:

  • Gum recession
  • Swollen or red gum tissue
  • Chronic bad breath
  • Gums that bleed when you brush your teeth
  • Loose or shifting teeth

Gum disease can be treated and managed, but it’s important to be evaluated by your dentist if you’re exhibiting the signs of gum disease.

Canker Sores

Canker sores are painful ulcers on the tissues of your mouth, and they usually appear on the inside of your mouth. While not contagious, canker sores are usually caused by trauma inflicted on your mouth, including brushing too vigorously, biting or chewing the inside of your cheeks, or accidentally biting your tongue. Stress can also be to blame for pesky canker sores.

Fortunately, pain from a canker sore will usually only last a few days and the sores themselves should heal on their own in a week or two. An at-home salt water rinse will help you manage the discomfort.

However, if your canker sores are larger than normal, return regularly, and cause pain for more than a few days, you may need to see your dentist in order to get a prescription mouth rinse or ointment.

Dry Mouth

You may be surprised to learn that stress can also cause dry mouth. Known as xerostomia, dry mouth occurs when your saliva glands fail to produce enough saliva. Your mouth may feel parched and scratchy, and it may be worse at night.

Stress can decrease your saliva production and make your mouth feel cottony and dry. For example, if you’re under stress and breathing through your mouth, the airflow may further dry out the oral tissues.

Drinking plenty of water helps increase saliva, and non-alcoholic mouthwash may help relieve your dry mouth. Dry mouth can increase your risk of tooth decay, so it’s important to talk to your dentist about treatment options.

In the end, the most important way to care for your mouth during times of stress is to consistently practice good oral hygiene. Make sure you’re brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, flossing daily, and receiving regular dental cleanings and exams every 6-12 months.

We hope this article answered your question: Can stress cause teeth pain? Your overall health and well-being is important to us. Our team is ready to restore your smile and relieve your pain! Contact Endodontic Specialists of Colorado to schedule your evaluation today.