Emotional Stress of Anxiety Disorders Contributes to Oral Health Problems

Dec. 12, 2003
Medications increase risk of tooth decay.

Anxiety disorders, which include phobias, panic attacks, generalized anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD), are serious conditions with oral health implications that can be treated with a variety of methods, according to a report published in the November/December 2003 issue of General Dentistry , the clinical, peer-reviewed journal of the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD).

"Oral health problems associated with anxiety disorders include canker sores, dry mouth, Lichen Planus (lacy white lines, red areas or mouth ulcers, burning mouth syndrome, and temporomandibular joint disorders," says James W. Little, DMD, lead report author.

Patients with anxiety disorders may disregard their oral health altogether and are at an increased risk for dental caries, periodontal disease, and bruxism (grinding). Anxiety could be caused by being anxious of a needle and complicate procedures.

Tell your dentist about your anxiety disorder and what medications you are on," says Mike Bromberg, DDS, AGD spokesperson.

Some medications decrease the mouth's ability to produce saliva, which can increase the risk of developing tooth decay and periodontal disease. Other medication side effects include dry mouth, vomiting (which could cause tooth decay and erosion), anemia and bleeding.