Stress is a pandemic in our society. Some reports indicate that about one in four Americans are suffering from high levels of stress at any given time, and as many as 8 out of 10 people suffer from stress at work. Unfortunately, it turns out that stress can actually lead to receding gums.

The Stress-Gum Disease Connection

dreamstime_s_41368831It was in the 1980s that people began to note the connection between stress and gum disease, but it wasn’t until the late 1990s and early 2000s that the connection began to be explored in depth. Many studies asked people about their level of stress and then looked at their gum disease.

In this typical study of 1000 people in Hong Kong, aged 25-64, people were surveyed about stressors. Gums were then examined to determine how much attachment their gums had lost from their teeth. Turns out, the higher the stress–particularly job stress and financial stress–the more gum attachment that was lost. This was even after controlling for age, smoking, gender, and systemic diseases (such as diabetes). Researchers also found that people who were depressed, anxious, or had unhealthy coping mechanisms tended to have more gum attachment loss.

How Stress Leads to Gum Disease

While the above correlation makes sense, it can’t really be considered meaningful until we have a mechanism or mechanisms that allow us to show how stress contributes to gum disease. It’s likely there are two mechanisms by which stress leads to gum disease: the behavioral impacts and the physiological impacts.

It’s easy to see how stress can change your behavior in a way that leads to increased gum disease. With more stress, people are more likely to neglect oral hygiene, may smoke more, may drink more, and may eat more.

But stress also causes physiologic responses that can contribute to gum disease. First, stress can cause a suppression of your immune system, which makes it easier for bacteria to spread. Stress can also lead to dry mouth, which means that there is less saliva to help control the level of bacteria in your mouth.

Getting Past the Stress

We all go through stressful times in our life, but most of us put them behind us. If you’ve gotten rid of the stress, but are still left with a reminder in the form of receding gums, please call 310-275-5325 for receding gums treatment in Beverly Hills or  949-551-5902 for receding gums treatment in Orange County.