Healthy Living

Severe Stress and Depression May Cause Gum Disease

Severe Stress and Depression May Cause Gum Disease

Key Takeaways

  • Gum disease is treatable if you seek treatment with a health care professional.
  • Gum disease can lead to tooth loss.
  • If you are able to manage your stress, it can prevent you from contracting gum disease.

According to a review published in the Journal of Periodontology, studies show a strong link between stress and gum disease. About 57% of the studies conducted displayed an accurate association between gum disease and stress-related symptoms, including distress, anxiety, depression, and loneliness. 

Although it is difficult to prove the negative effects of stress on an individual's gums, researchers say that high levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, directly affect the gums. Moreover, as stress levels increase, oral health begins to be the least of any stress-filled individual's worries. Preston D. Miller Jr., DDS, president of the American Academy of Periodontology, said individuals with high stress levels may indulge in bad habits, including the use of nicotine, alcohol, or drugs, which can be harmful for the gums. He recommends that people should try to alleviate stress through exercise, a healthy diet, a good night's sleep, and by maintaining a positive attitude.

In this study, researchers reviewed 14 different studies published between the year 1990 and 2006. These studies focused on the correlation between stress and gum disease in adults. Most of the reviewed studies displayed a clear association between stress and periodontal disease.

Daiane Peruzzo, PhD, of the State University of Campinas, Piracicaba in Brazil, feels that there should be additional studies conducted to validate the association of stress and gum disease. However, people who are able to manage their stress can lower their risk for gum disease. Gum diseases, if left untreated, can lead to tooth loss. Some of the common symptoms of gum diseases include tender, bleeding gums, swollen gums, bad breath, and loose teeth.