It’s Time to Stress Less!

This is a stressful month for lots of Americans as that April 15 tax deadline approaches. In light of that, we find it fitting that April is Stress Awareness Month.

While we can’t help you with your taxes, we can help shed some light on the damage that stress can do to your teeth. That’s right – stress doesn’t just give you a headache or make your shoulders sore; it also can be harmful to your oral health.

Following are some stress-related oral problems that you should talk to your dentist about if you
have them:

Teeth clenching or grinding, called bruxism

It’s important that your bruxism be treated, because it can lead to additional oral health issues. People who clench and grind their teeth when under stress or while sleeping tend to wear down their teeth, which makes the edges appear blunt. This also prematurely erodes the tooth enamel, which can increase sensitivity to hot and cold beverages.

Patient education plays a big role if you clench or grind your teeth while awake because stress typically is the cause, and your reaction to the stress could be exacerbating the problem. You made need help changing habits such as nail biting, pencil chewing and jaw clenching.

It may also be beneficial to take steps to identify and address the stressors in your daily life and find ways to relax through breathing training or exercise.

Those with nighttime bruxism may find a bite guard useful in preventing damage to your teeth.

Temporomandibular joint disorder

It is possible that bruxism contributes to temporomandibular joint disorder, which involves problems with your jaw and the facial muscles that control it.

Numerous studies have shown that a relationship exists between bruxism and TMD, although scientific research still hasn’t identified a causal link between the two. But people who are under a lot of stress often complain of neck and jaw pain, as well as headaches, all of which can be caused by TMJ disorder.

Like bruxism treatment, a splint or night guard can help TMJ disorder sufferers. Dental work also may be called for if you have crowded, crooked or missing teeth. Invisalign treatment can align teeth to even out biting surfaces. Crowns and bridges can help balance your biting surfaces to alleviate the problem if you have missing teeth.

Bad oral habits: biting nails, chewing on ice and pencils, etc.

Stress can make you fidgety, and sometimes you might feel the urge to expend that pent-up emotion by gnawing on your fingernails, or chewing on the end of your pen or pencil.

It’s time to find better alternatives to managing your stress! Chewing on foreign objects can tear your gums and other soft tissue, which can spread bacteria into the mouth and your bloodstream. Depending on how much pressure you apply to your teeth when biting your nails, you can alter your tooth alignment.

Ways to Manage Stress

So now that you know how harmful stress can be to your health, you need to learn some tips on managing stress. There is a ton of great information available online. We recommend reading the following articles:

We hope this helps! Please call us to schedule an appointment if you believe stress is negatively impacting your oral health.