Stressful behavior patterns can lead to vitamin deficiencies.
When people are under stress, sucrose ingestion may lead to
hypoglycemia, a condition directly related to stress. The
National Institutes of Health reports that 87 percent of the
population suffer from faulty carbohydrate metabolism.
Eating improperly, which usually occurs when a person is
under stress, can lead to lack of vitamins.
Remedies: Take vitamin supplements at times of stress.
Magnesium and zinc, along with a multiple vitamin, can be
If you find that you are not eating properly and are in
need of vitamins, take supplemental vitamins in pill form.
Vitamin supplements are easy to buy, and it is important
when you are going through stressful times to supplement
the body’s needs. Vitamins build strong bone that supports
your teeth and helps to generate gum tissue. Stress will
throw the body off balance, and these vitamins are very
important to feed both the teeth and gums. Also, exercising
will help with circulation and help prevent the vitamin
depletion in your body.
Nail Biting/Thumb Sucking
Thumb sucking and nail biting are habits related to stress. You
may laugh, but many adults do habitually suck their thumbs. These oral habits, which arise from stress, can cause gum disease.
The nails beds are loaded with bacteria and when placed
in the mouth can contribute to an environment rich in bacteria,
thus irritating the gum tissue. Think about it: You touch
things all day that are laden with bacteria and then you place
your fingers in your mouth, chewing the nail off and leaving
the bacteria to invade the soft tissues of your mouth. These
stress-related habits can contribute to gum infection and may
even contribute to gum abscesses. If you have a cut on your
gum and then bite your nails, the bacteria that are introduced
can lodge in the cut, causing an abscess.
Remedies: Have a professional manicure weekly. The
cost and effort spent to beautify your nails will help you to
eliminate the bad habit of putting your hands in your
A beautiful manicure will cost you money but it will
eliminate the bacteria from spreading into your mouth due
to nail biting, and may even help reduce your stress level.
Sucking lemons is another habit caused by stress. Do you
know how acidic lemons are? Acid is not a friend to the soft
tissues of your mouth. It can dry and irritate the soft tissue.
I have heard about people sucking on lemons as a relaxant!
People do different, quirky things when they are stressed.
Most of the time, these things are deleterious to the mouth
and other parts of the body.
Remedies: Herbal candies can be a good replacement.
The need to have an oral fixation is better replaced with
herbal components. Habitual lemon sucking can cause much damage to the
supporting structures of your teeth. If you find that you are
sucking on lemons excessively due to stress, consciously
make an effort to stop, and intellectually understand that this
habit can damage your teeth and gums. Think of the sour
taste in your mouth. Does this really make you feel good?
Exercise your good sense and replace the acidic lemon with
some cooling fruits and vegetables. Cucumbers are very
cooling to the gum tissue, so place them on the gums
instead. Cooling fruits and vegetables will allow the gums to
heal in times of stress.
Toothbrush Abrasion and Stress
Many people use their toothbrush too harshly and take out
their frustrations by brushing too hard, causing toothbrush abrasion. This can end up ridging the enamel of your teeth.
Enamel is a veneer that can be ridged by a hard brush or
heavy-handed brushing. The ridge line that many professionals
see is close to the gum line. This ridge can become a
holding place for food and plaque to attach to. This area, if
grooved deeply, will collect bacterial plaque that can be a
cause of gum disease. If toothbrush abrasion causes you
pain and sensitivity, then you may not be working effectively
at removing the plaque and tartar from your gums.
Remedies: Use a soft brush and angle it with a massage
approach at the gum line. Stressful times lead us to beat up
on the soft tissue of the mouth, so consciously become aware
of how hard you are working your mouth. Examine your
teeth, and if any ridges are appearing on the tooth line, then
stop any harsh strokes. Nurture yourself.
Toothbrush abrasion is a common result of anger and
stress. Many people brush harshly at the gum line and cause
their gums to recede (shrink), leaving them “long in the
tooth.” Consciously massage the gums and let your hands
relax before you approach your mouth with the brush. Use
rhythm, much as you would if you were exercising your
body at the gym.
Drinking alcohol to reduce stress can lead to more stress.
Stress has to be brought to a level of awareness and dealt
with. Alcohol reduces the ability to deal with problems, thus
creating a severe problem in itself. It also causes bad gums
and diminishes saliva flow, thus drying out the gum tissue.
This dried gum tissue will become sore and loose and can be
a factor in the onset of gum disease. Remedies: If you are deeply involved in alcohol use,
seek professional or group help. Motivate yourself to act by
knowing that alcohol depletes all the vitamins in your system
and eats away at your tooth structures.
If you are stressed and are turning to alcohol, try to
problem-solve instead, and think clearly. Throw away the
alcohol and face your problems. Lead yourself into an
environment that is healthier and cleaner. Try yoga, or
another form of exercise, and breathe deeply and slowly.
Another stress-related habit is smoking. Smoking can
destroy your health because cigarettes contain thousands of
toxins. Smoking is immunosuppressive, and it may take over
three months to reverse the damage it causes. The use of
tobacco products puts you at a high risk of periodontal disease.
Tobacco smoking has been associated with acute
necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis (ANUG), a severe form of
gingivitis. Nicotine use can reduce antibody production,
alter T-cell ratios, and reduce the mineral content in the
bones. All of these reactions to nicotine can affect your
gums. When you look at people who smoke, notice their
facial skin. Just as smoking dries the tissue of the face, leaving
the skin lined and wrinkled, it also dries out the gums.
Remedies: Try SmokeEnders or hypnosis, or just go cold
turkey. Throw away your demons. If this doesn’t work, seek
professional help. Go to your doctor and get a prescription
for the nicotine patch. If you are an habitual smoker and find
that during stressful times you smoke more, consciously
make an effort to reduce your smoking. You may think you
are getting relief from smoking, but it is actually increasing your stress level. Fight the bad habits and challenge yourself
to achieve good health by problem-solving instead.
Knowing that stress is one of the problems that can
cause illness and gum disease is very important. But just
knowing is not enough; it takes willpower and self-control
to eliminate the stressful habits. In times of excessive stress,
think of your body as a machine; do not overwork the physical
machine with bad habits and negative thoughts. Let
problem-solving lead you in the right direction. Thought
processes create energy, which can elevate or lower your
immune system. Positive problem-solving will lead to better
health and help you eliminate stresses leading to gum
disease. And, most important, throw away your tobacco. I
am not a psychologist, but I have noticed that most people
who smoke have control issues. What is in control here, the
tobacco? Are you letting the tobacco lead you to ill health?
Exercise your intelligence and logically understand your
need for this habitual life-reducing substance. Then reduce
the need to have addictions that do not promote your health.
In this chapter I focused on some of the most common bad
habits that may be the cause of gum disease. If you catch the
problems early, you will have less trouble reducing or breaking
them. Stress can be a negative energy force that enters
our life and invades our bodies. Don’t let it impact your life,
or your body, in a negative way.