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The Effects of Stress on Your Child’s Smile

We all know that day-to-day stress can accumulate and cause damage to anyone’s mental and physical health, but did you know stress can also have adverse effects that show up in your child’s dental health as well? At Smile Zone, an all kids dental center, we want to help ensure your children’s oral health is optimal so their adult dental care will be focused on regular maintenance.

Helping our patients’ parents and guardians stay informed about pediatric tooth and oral health is critical to our mission. In this article we discuss the importance of monitoring how stressed your child feels so that changes can be made as soon as possible if needed.

Noticeable Effects of Stress on Oral Health

When your child is growing older and experiencing stress, it may result in decreased oral health and hygiene in a number of ways. Keep an eye out for these signs of stress:

  1. Poor dental hygiene habits - Reduced efforts can accumulate and cause cavities

  2. Dry mouth - Stress reduces saliva production, which can allow plaque buildup

  3. Jaw Clenching - Constant muscle tension can cause noticeable pain

  4. Grinding Teeth - Often done unknowingly, tooth grinding can wear down the teeth and cause even bigger issues

  5. Canker Sores - These are painful sores and can be caused by stress

Teeth Talk, Even When They’re Tiny

If your child is experiencing stress, it is likely to show up on their teeth, perhaps in more than one way. Recently, researchers at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital published the results of a fascinating study that showed how baby teeth can be an important predictor to a child’s risk of mental health issues later in life.

A social and psychiatric epidemiologist and investigator in MGH’s Psychiatric and Neurodevelopmental Genetics Unit, Dr. Erin Dunn, was the senior author of the study that postulated a connection between the thickness of stress lines in children’s baby teeth and their risk of facing emotional and mental health problems later in life. While there is no easy way to specifically measure the adversity children face in their formative years, Dunn noted the evidence that teeth can present a kind of living record of a variety of life experiences.

The Importance of Good Nutrition

An article about this important study noted that, “Exposure to sources of physical stress, such as poor nutrition or disease, can affect the formation of dental enamel and result in pronounced growth lines within teeth, called stress lines, which are similar to the rings in a tree that mark its age.”

Proper tooth development and maintenance requires adequate nutrients such as proteins, vitamins A, C and D as well as calcium and fluoride. If your child is experiencing other health complications, it is especially important to work with a doctor and nutritionist to be sure they are absorbing essential nutrients.

Early Stress Management

Caring for a child’s mental health even before they are born is paramount. Mothers can focus on reducing their own stress even while pregnant in order to give their child the best start. Dreaming of a brunch with friends, pedicure, or bubble bath? Those kinds of relaxing breaks may have more of a positive effect than you think!

Call us at Smile Zone

When you’re searching for a “pediatric dentist near me” you won’t find a better kids’ dentist than Smile Zone. Our entire office staff caters to children’s dentistry. Choosing the best dentist for kids means that your children will benefit from our many years of experience in the field. Kids’ dental care is our top priority, but we also focus on the whole child, and will make the entire experience comfortable, positive, and fun!

Because we know you lead a busy life, we offer late afternoon, evening, and weekend appointments to accommodate your schedule. Give us a call at (530) 230-0081 to schedule your child’s dental check-up, x rays, and cleaning. We look forward to helping you improve your children’s oral health and teach them healthy habits that will last a lifetime.


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