KN Dentistry

Stress Can Be Dangerous for Your Dental Health

We all know that too much stress is not good for us as it can impact our mental, emotional and physical health. What is not talked about a lot, though, is that it can also affect our dental health, potentially causing pain, tooth repair and dental emergencies.

The most common source of the stress related problems is teeth grinding, also known as bruxism. When we are stressed, most of us will clench or grind our teeth and it is often worse at night when we are not aware we are doing it. This extra pressure on our teeth, along with the grinding motion can cause a lot of damage, both immediately and over time. Fortunately, there are ways to alleviate bruxism. Ideally, you would find a way to relieve your stress so grinding would not happen at all, but if you can't, we have ways to intervene and protect your teeth.

One of these is with a nightguard, snoreguard or other appliance that you wear at night when you sleep. These appliances can help in a couple of ways. They not only create a barrier that protects your teeth, but may also put your jaw in a neutral position that prevents the bruxism from happening. We encourage you to let us know if you may be grinding your teeth at night so that we can work together to protect your smile.

In addition to or because of bruxism, you may experience other dental issues as well:

Sensitive Teeth - The extra pressure caused by stress and grinding can irritate the nerves in your teeth and make them sensitive. If you experience generalized tooth sensitivity or have it in more than one specific area of your mouth, bruxism may be the cause.

Fractured or Broken Teeth - When we see patients who can't remember when they broke their tooth or say that it happened when they were only eating something soft, we know that stress related clenching and grinding may be the cause. Teeth often handle the pressure for awhile and then seem to break for no reason. We are grateful that we are able to repair these teeth for our patients, but would love to be able to prevent it from happening at all.

TMD (Temporomandibular Disorder) - This involves the joints that connect your jaw to your head, let you open and close your mouth, and move your lower jaw from side to side. When they are over-worked due to stress and bruxism they can become painful, stop working well, or make clicking or crackling sounds when used. These jaw related issues can also cause jaw fatigue and headaches. TMD is not always easy to treat and catching it early is important.

Another way that stress can show up in your mouth is with canker sores. There is not a lot known about them, but studies have linked them to stress. If you develop these small ulcers in your mouth you can try warm salt water rinses to ease the discomfort, but if they stick around for over a week give us a call.

It would be wonderful if we lived in a stress free world, but that is not likely to happen. We hope that you discover ways to release stress that work for you. In the meantime, we are here to help if you experience any of these stress related issues in your mouth.

If you are concerned about the impact of stress on your mouth, live with someone who grinds their teeth at night or haven't seen a dentist in at least 6 months, please give us a call.

KN Dentistry - Orange, CA - (714) 633-2562

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