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Stress may lead to gum disease, studies show
Updated: 5/21/2010 7:00:33 PM

Stress may lead to gum disease, studies show Between sugary foods and insufficient dental hygiene, there are many factors that can contribute to poor dental health. A recent study from Harvard University has found that stress can also be added to that list.

A team of researchers from the school reviewed several recent studies that looked at issues of stress and gum disease and found that 57 percent of those works show some level of correlation between the two.

Lead researcher, Dr Preston Miller, speculated that one potential cause may be that cortisol, a hormone released during stressful periods, may weaken gums, leaving them vulnerable to infections. He added that lifestyle choices of stressed individuals may also play a role.

"Individuals with high stress levels tend to increase their bad habits, which can be harmful to periodontal health," he said. "They are less attentive to their oral hygiene and may increase their use of nicotine, alcohol or drugs."

Miller added that patients should find healthier ways of relieving stress, like exercising and eating better.

The National Institute for Health Statistics estimates that nearly 27 percent of adults have some degree of gum disease.

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