Back To School Stress and Kid’s Oral Health

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Learn about the effect of back-to-school stress on your child’s oral health.

Stress is common for people of all ages, especially for those attending school. From elementary school to college, kids, teens, and adults find going back to school after a summer break to be very stressful. Anxiety and stress can elicit a physical response that can affect oral health, as kids may develop unhealthy eating choices to cope, or they may unknowingly grind their teeth at night. Continue reading to learn more about the effect that back-to-school stress can have on your child’s oral health. 


Oral health can be affected by stress in various ways. For example, your child may not be used to the morning or night routine when they go back to school, and may not brush their teeth as thoroughly or for as long as they should. The school day can also affect their eating habits, whether they chose to drink sugary drinks to stay awake at night to finish homework or go to the vending machine for candy during the school day. Also, a younger child may revert back to the coping habit of sucking their thumb, which can have adverse effects on their teeth. Teeth grinding is another common habit for those experiencing stress, and can be very painful.

Negative Effects of Stress

Did you know that dental decay is the most prevalent childhood disease in society today? Tooth decay can be painful and result in many dental visits for fillings or even abscesses that result in extractions. If tooth decay results in missing or misaligned teeth, children and teens can feel embarrassed to be around their peers at school, putting more stress on them. Families that are socio-economically challenged have a disproportionate rate of cavities, suggesting that stress from their home situation increases the amount of cavity-forming bacteria in the mouth. These are key indicators that stress can trigger physiological mechanisms that may negatively affect oral health.

What Parents Can Do

To help your child cope with back to school stress or any other stressful situations they are dealing with, it’s essential to recognize the signs and symptoms and act quickly. Neglect or brushing the problem off will only exacerbate the problem and may lead to a decline in your child’s overall health as well as oral health. To help manage your child’s stress, encourage a healthy sleep schedule and diet, spend quality time with them every day, talk to them about school and why they are stressed, rearrange their schedule if they are too busy, schedule wellness visits with their doctor and follow-up visits with their dentist, and if necessary, seek help from a school counselor or mental health professional. School can be very stressful for children, so it’s crucial to take it seriously and help them deal with the stress as best as possible to ensure they are happy and healthy!

Keep Your Smile Healthy with Affinity

Affinity Dental, located in Catonsville, MD, has six dentists and provides a variety of services from pediatric dentistry to orthodontics. Affinity Dental is capable of meeting all your needs. With 170 combined years of treating a variety of dental needs, Affinity is committed to providing quality dental care. To get your teeth back into good health and make your smile bright, call us at 410-719-7900 or contact us online. For other useful tips on dental care follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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