Stress-Related Signs

Does Your Child's Oral Health Show Stress-Related Signs?
Posted on 10/20/2021
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COVID-19 and all of the changes that have taken place during the last several months might have created high levels of stress for everyone, including your children. While you may be aware of some of the stress-related symptoms your child has, you may not realize that stress can also impact their teeth, mouth, and smile. Discover some of the indicators you may see that could be stress-related.

Increased Cavities

When people are under acute stress, their brains require more energy, and one of the quickest energy boosters many children reach for are carbohydrates, often sugary snacks. 

When your children consume foods containing sugar, the molecules of the food combine with the bacteria in their mouth, which leads to the plaque on their teeth. If not removed, the plague can then eat away on the enamel surface of the tooth, which will eventually cause decay.

Poor Oral Health

Sometimes, when children are under stress or deal with situations out of their control, they are not as structured and focused on the things they have been in the past. When their daily schedules have altered and they are not required to leave home every day, they may not see the importance of doing their daily hygiene, which may include brushing and flossing their teeth.

The failure to brush and floss over time, combined with sugary snacks, can lead to your child having poor oral health that can go much further than cavities. It can lead to chronic bad breath, gum disease, tooth sensitivity, tooth loss, or mouth ulcers.


Bruxism is the grinding of your child's teeth or the clenching of their jaws. 2–3 out of every 10 children will likely experience this at some point in their lives. While this can occur for a variety of reasons, stress can be a trigger.

Some children will not experience any side effects of bruxism, while others may suffer from headaches, earaches, and jaw or neck swelling. This behavior may also chip their teeth or wear down their enamel over time.

Temporomandibular Joint Disorders

Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ) are when your child has pain in the joint that connects their jaw to their skull. This can manifest as:

  • Pain or tenderness in the side of their face
  • Aching pain in and around their ears
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Pain with movement of their jaw
  • Locking of their jaw when opening or attempting to close their mouth

TMJ may also manifest itself with a clicking or grating sound when the jaw moves. TMJ in children can be from bruxism, although they can experience bruxism and never experience TMJ.

Cold Sores

Although cold sores are from the herpes simplex virus (HSV-1), stress is a tremendous trigger that can make these painful sores appear on your child's lip. Cold sores can also come from fatigue, hormonal changes, cold weather, and a weakened immune system.

Once they appear, you have to let them run their course. Fortunately, medications on the market can reduce the pain they cause and hasten your child's healing time.

The team at Treasured Smiles Pediatric Dentistry is fully aware of how stressful times are right now and what the importance of good dental hygiene is. Call us today to make an appointment for your child to have a dental exam and cleaning. We will be glad to look for signs and symptoms of the stress that could affect their oral health. Hopefully, by addressing the signs and symptoms quickly, we can make them go away. Please let our team know what specific concerns or questions you may have. We will be very happy to answer them.


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