Is stress ruining your teeth?

A new study finds that there is a "strong" relationship between periodontal diseases and psychological problems, such as stress, distress, anxiety, depression, and loneliness.

The report, published in the August issue of the Journal of Periodontology (JOP), said minimizing stress could ultimately lead to healthier teeth and gums.

Researchers speculate that the hormone cortisol — which is released by the body during stress — may play a role in the connection between mental health and periodontal diseases.

A study in the July issue of the JOP found that increased levels of cortisol can lead to increased destruction of the gums and jaw bone due to periodontal diseases. Periodontal diseases, left untreated, can ultimately lead to bone loss or tooth loss.

Individuals should work to lower stress and maintain good oral health habits, researchers said.

“Individuals with high stress levels tend to increase their bad habits, which can be harmful to periodontal health," said dentist Preston D. Miller, Jr., president of the American Academy of Periodontology, in a news release. “Patients should seek healthy ways to relieve stress through exercise, balanced eating, plenty of sleep, and maintaining a positive mental attitude.”