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Anxiety disorders and your oral health

Dentist visit

Occasional anxiety is a normal part of life. But anxiety that’s persistent, seemingly uncontrollable and overwhelming can be disabling. When anxiety interferes with daily activities, you may have an anxiety disorder, such as generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, agoraphobia or social anxiety disorder.

Oral effects of anxiety

In addition to impacting your daily life, anxiety disorders can affect your oral health. You may experience these conditions:

  • Canker sores
  • Dry mouth
  • Lichen planus (lacy white lines, red areas or mouth ulcers)
  • Burning mouth syndrome
  • Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ, also known as TMD)
  • Bruxism (grinding)

If you have an anxiety disorder, you may neglect dental care, increasing your risk of cavities and gum disease.

The medication you take for anxiety can also affect your oral health. Some anxiety medications decrease your mouth's ability to produce saliva, adding to the risk of dental health problems. Other side effects from medication include 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 brushing twice a day, flossing every day and having your gums and teeth regularly checked by your dentist. To help control your anxiety-related symptoms, tell your dentist about your disorder and any medications you’re taking. And, if visiting the dentist itself is a source of anxiety for you, try choosing a time when you’re not rushed, bringing along your favorite music or discussing any concerns with your dentist.

Related reading:

Source: Understand the Facts. Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Accessed March 2017.
Last updated: March 2017
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