August 22, 2019
There are a lot of bad habits that can form as a result of a busy, stressful life – drinking, smoking, and mindless eating, to name a few. Some of these stress-induced habits are of particular concern to your dentist. Studies have proven a link between high levels of stress and deteriorating oral health. Continue reading below to learn 4 ways that stress impacts teeth.
1. Teeth Grinding
Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, typically occurs at night when you can’t even tell you’re doing it. It can lead to severe consequences like:
- Worn down enamel
- Jaw pain
- Fractures in teeth
If you wake up with a sore jaw, you may have bruxism. Ask your dentist about a mouthguard, or a plastic tray worn over the teeth to prevent harmful contact.
2. TMJ Disorder
When you grind or clench your teeth over and over, it can upset your temporomandibular joint, or your TMJ. This is the joint that connects your jaw to your skull and allows you to chew, speak, and rotate your jaw. Common signs of TMJ disorder include:
- Stiffness or swelling in your jaw
- Popping or cracking sound when you open or close your jaw
- Difficulty chewing or opening and closing your jaw all the way
3. Nail Biting
Biting your nails is a fairly common stress-related habit that can cause breakage in your tooth enamel. Besides that, germs from your nails could get transferred to your mouth and cause infection, and not just in your mouth. They could travel into the rest of your system and cause problems elsewhere.
4. Gum Disease
Gum disease is a bacterial infection in your gum tissue. About half of all adults in the U.S. will have it at some point, but just because it’s common doesn’t mean it’s not a big deal. It’s a serious condition, especially when you’re stressed out. Long-term stress can lower your body’s ability to fight off infections, including gum disease. When left untreated, it can result in bleeding and inflamed gums, bad breath, and loose teeth that may even fall out in the future. If your gums are red or sensitive, consult your dentist right away.
For most of these habits, it’s best to attack them at the source: stress. Try journaling before bed, drinking green tea, and doing yoga to help yourself relax. Your teeth will thank you.
About the Author
Dr. Christopher Pollard earned his Doctor of Dental Surgery from Baylor College of Dentistry in 1988. He is currently pursuing a Fellowship with the American Academy of Implant Dentistry. His practice, Dental Renaissance in Plano, TX, offers nightguards to protect your teeth and TMJ from the harmful effects of stress-related grinding. To protect your oral health from stress, visit Dr. Pollard’s website or call (972) 423-0880.
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