Stress Related Dental Problems

Neglect and bruxism can lead to a significant amount of damage to your teeth.

Stress is a reality of daily life for most of us. This can come from many different angles including family matters and work.

It is widely acknowledged that stress can have a negative impact on our general health, but it also affects our teeth and gums too.

Whilst overcoming, or at least reducing stress may be difficult, it is worth taking the time to make changes to your life for the sake of your teeth, and your overall health.

Neglect

When we are stressed, we often turn to instant ‘solutions’ to our problems. One of the main choices is often alcohol as it is freely available, and many people do find that it helps them to relax. Unfortunately, ‘too much of a good thing’ can have consequences, and, whilst it may relax us, too much alcohol consumption can lead not only to heart problems and other issues, but also to oral health problems such as mouth cancers and periodontitis.

Our diet too may suffer when we are stressed, and we may find ourselves turning to ‘comfort’ foods; many of which contain very high levels of sugar which is harmful to our teeth.

Bruxism

Whilst we can look at the way that we deal with stress and choose not turn to alcohol or comfort foods, it is harder to control another common side effect of stress and that is bruxism, or teeth grinding. This tends to largely happen whilst we sleep and is therefore very difficult to stop.

Grinding of teeth will wear down the enamel, causing teeth to become weaker and possibly even break. The damage to the enamel may also expose the dentin layer, leading to decay and possibly root canal infections. A mouthguard may be useful in preventing the coming together of teeth whilst you sleep, although obviously will not address the root cause of the stress.

Muscle relaxants may offer some relief from this problem, but, especially on a long term basis, may create as many problems as they resolve. You may find some of the following tips useful to prevent, or at least ease, your teeth grinding.

Muscle relaxing exercises – Try gently placing the tip of your tongue between your front teeth and hold for a few minutes at a time. This can help to relax the muscles and may be helpful shortly before you go to sleep. Also, avoid chewing gum as this will cause the muscles to tense.

Warm the jaw – Using a hot towel or similar (but not so hot as to burn) and wrap this around the jaw for a while. Massaging the cheeks in front of the ear lobes may help too.

Lifestyle changes – A good night’s sleep may help to reduce tension. Make sure that there are no light interferences in your bedroom. Turn  away bright displays on alarm clocks, avoid coffee and caffeine drinks in the evening and leave an hour or so between being on the internet and going to bed so that you are more relaxed.

These methods may help to relieve some of the worst excesses of bruxism. You may also like to try relaxation methods or even hypnotherapy over the longer term to overcome it. It is probably a case of trial and error to find out what works best for you, but the results may be well worth it.

If you have overcome your teeth grinding habit and would like to find out how we can restore your teeth, please call the Confidental Clinic in Purley on 020 8660 8923.