Why Stress Can Be Bad for Teeth- The Side Effects of Stress on Oral Health

We all hear that stress is bad for your mind and body. Healthcare professionals from doctors to health coaches, advised us to reduce stressing yourself since it can raise cortisol, insomnia, anxiety, overeating, weight fluctuations and other problems. But did you ever think that stress can also negatively affect the teeth?

Here are some of the potential hazards on teeth due to stress:

Bruxism (grinding teeth) and worn down teeth

Stress maybe the number 1 reason why people grind their teeth during sleep. As a prosthodontis/cosmetic dentist and a health coach, I have treated numerous patients who grind their teeth. Some of them grind so much to the point that the teeth are at the gum line. One would not be able to see if these patients actually have teeth. Or they have TMJ pain or jaw pain. Worn down teeth and jaw pain are most typical presentation of grinding and we see a lot of these cases in my office. Most often, these patients report a lot of stress in their lives, either by work, family or any other pertaining issues.

Increase in Cavities

Stressed also seems to affect food preferences . The foods people crave while they are stressed are generally not healthy (High in sugar or unhealthy carbohydrates). Also, the drinks maybe not so healthy – especially alcoholic drinks. For which, some people turn to during high stress times to unwind, are not great for teeth. Beer and wine, especially sweet ones, have carbohydrates in them and they can form plaque and cause cavities within matter of minutes. Sweets are known to increase serotonin and dopamine(feel goo neurotransmitters) levels in the body and many people who are under stress report that they gravitate towards sugary food and snacks. Very rarely stress makes one turn to spinach and broccoli to tame the nerves.

TMJ Pain

Clenching and grinding are the most likely cause of TMJ pain and TMD (Temporo Mandibular Disease). People clenches and grind their teeth during high times of stress. Interestingly one of the pharmacological interventions for TMJ disorder is antidepressant or antianxiety medication. Just like any joints in the body; when TMJ is traumatized due to excessive clenching and grinding; one can have terrible jaw ache, head ache, neck pain and even ear ache. Some TMJ patients have difficulty opening their mouths and eating.

Stress seems inevitable in our fast paces, modern society, but we can seek help to manage it. Some amount of stress is actually shown to be healthy by some studies. But we should proactive on managing excessive stress and also please do pay attention to see if you have any above dental signs due to your excessive stress. If you need to have them diagnosed, please do contact your dentist or our office before problems are irreversible or detrimental. At a later article, we will further discuss how we can minimize the negative effects of stress that have on the teeth.

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