What Does Stress Do To Your Teeth & Mouth?

what does stress do to teeth
“Do you find yourself under a lot of stress?”

Don’t be surprised if your dentist or dental hygienist asks you this question while you’re in the dental chair. More and more signs of stress are showing up in our mouths. Studies show a correlation between stress and tooth pain, as well as stress and teeth grinding. Your dentist may notice tension by the wear patterns on your teeth, tooth sensitivity, or temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD).

If you find yourself feeling tense or anxious, you too can keep an eye out for these stress-related disorders.

Bruxism

Bruxism is the grinding or clenching of teeth when not chewing. Teeth grinding can have different causes, such as stress and anxiety, but it can also be due to an uneven bite and misaligned teeth. Some people are aware they grind their teeth because a family member has mentioned they can hear them doing it. Yet, many people aren’t aware that they grind their teeth because they do it at night while sleeping.

Teeth grinding should not be ignored as it can cause chronic severe issues. Your dentist can offer helpful tips or a night appliance to prevent more damage from happening. Reach out to your dentist If you notice any of these bruxism symptoms in you or your family members:

  • Jaw pain
  • Sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea
  • Headaches
  • Broken or chipped teeth
  • Abnormal tooth wear

Temporomandibular Disorders (TMD)

Temporomandibular disorders are problems associated with the jaw muscles that help to move the head and neck. Studies show that stress and anxiety are factors in TMD. Stressful situations can trigger clenching and grinding of the teeth, leading to the overuse of these powerful jaw muscles. Some people with temporomandibular disorders have signs of tooth wear on their teeth, but many do not. It’s essential to keep an eye out for those who report jaw pain, and headaches and yet do not show tooth wear signs because they may still be experiencing TMD.

Gum Disease

Stress can make it more difficult for our bodies to fight infection. When we are under pressure, one of the first things to go is our self-care practices. Even simple life tasks like brushing our teeth and flossing can feel like too much when we are under heavy loads of stress.

Studies show that our nutrition can also suffer in times of stress, and we may find ourselves reaching for sugary and high carb options. All these factors can negatively affect our oral health and increase our risk of getting gum disease. Those with gum disease will also notice that the disease progresses more rapidly when under high amounts of stress.

Canker Sores

Canker sores are mouth ulcers that are usually quite painful. These sores can be caused by trauma, such as a cheek bite, but they can also seem to be triggered by high-stress levels. They usually heal on their own in 7-14 days, but they are uncomfortable in the meantime.

Being honest with yourself about your current stress levels and evaluating your stress management is the first step in changing your stress levels. We can see how stress wreaks havoc in our lives and also in our mouths.

Reducing your stress levels and maintaining good home care can keep stress from compromising your health and causing chronic problems in your mouth. Do you have additional questions related to stress, or have you noticed these signs of stress in your own life? Give us a call today!

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