We all have those days. It’s easy to lose track of your personal health needs when you want to pull your hair out. Here are a few stress-related dental issues you may not be noticing and what you can do about them.
Body tension is one of the most common symptoms of stress and poses a threat to your pearly whites. You may find yourself grinding or clenching your teeth during stressful moments. Teeth grinding puts you at risk of cracking, breaking or even losing your teeth. If it is consistent and severe, you may notice that the tips of your teeth are flattened and that your tooth enamel has worn away in some areas, leaving your teeth sensitive and vulnerable to damage.
There’s also a chance you grind your teeth and don’t even know it! Many patients wake up with headaches and sore jaws—two telltale signs of sleep-time teeth grinding. Your dentist may need to prescribe an oral appliance called a night guard to wear while you sleep. Like other kinds of mouthguards, a night guard acts as a barrier between your teeth. It is an effective way to prevent damage from grinding, but it won’t stop the grinding or its root cause.
Stress can also cause trouble for your jaw. High body tension and teeth grinding/clenching can strain the joints that connect your jaw to your skull. This can lead to temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD). Signs of TMD include difficulty opening your mouth, clicking or popping noises when moving your jaw, pain while chewing and headaches. In most cases, TMD is a short-term problem that goes away with time, but it is important to see your dentist for the right solution. If the cause is stress, you can deal with your TMD symptoms at home.
Relaxation techniques are the key to giving your teeth a break. Two simple (and free!) activities to ease body tension are breathing exercises and meditation. Daily exercise will also help regulate anxiety. You should avoid caffeine because it can cause teeth grinding/clenching and can also raise your stress levels. Counseling can also help you find new stress management strategies.
If stress is affecting your teeth, you should make de-stressing part of your daily dental hygiene. Take some you-time! We can help you maintain the best possible level of dental care, but it is up to you to take care of your oral and emotional health needs between visits to the dentist. Don’t worry—we’re always rooting for you!
Both your health and your comfort are important to us as caregivers, and we know they often affect each other. That is why we do everything we can to provide personalized care in a relaxing environment. We encourage you to treat yourself and your dental health with the same level of respect that we do.