What Are Your Teeth Telling You About Your Stress Levels? by Adriana Wood, Certified & Registered Dental Hygienist

What are your teeth telling you about your stress levels

Are you stressed? Do you feel stressed? What is your body telling you about stress and how are you managing it?

Every day we get up, get our kids ready for school, make sure their lunches are healthy and ready for the day, then we go about our day and when we get home, it’s time for dinner, get our kids to soccer, hockey, and gymnastics. Then its homework and bed time routine (which isn’t always easy getting our kids to bed), by the time that’s done, you’re done too. Not to mention, the chaos at work that you had to endure for 8-12 hrs.

As a working mom, I know how hard it is to have all your ducks in a row. We often forget about ourselves. Lets face it, without us, our homes would fall apart.  How do we do it, how do we manage to keep the house together, everyone fed, bathed, homework done, raise them to be good human beings, go to work, come home and do it all over again.  Something has to give. That something is our teeth. We often forget to take care of ourselves, therefore, we take the stress out on something or someone (bless our partners on those days).

Our teeth play a very important roll in our every day life.  The changes that happen due to stress are microscopic on a day to day basis, however, one day, we wake up and notice a small chip in our front tooth and we can’t quite figure out where it came from, or our jaws are sore, or our teeth are sensitive or we chronically wake up with headaches and disrupted sleep.  We tend to continue on this path as we don't have time to go to the dentist, until you’re in pain of just simply having had enough. 

This is the first sign of bruxism also known as grinding/clenching. We probably do not pay too much attention to our teeth during our stressful work day, but perhaps we should. At this point we have learned and adapted for our teeth to be constantly working (grinding) when we don’t have food in our mouths. This is not the norm, if you find your teeth touching at all times, this is a clear indication of you clenching your teeth. When you clench/grind your teeth, you’re placing a lot of force and pressure, not only on your teeth, but also on your Temporal Mandibular Joint (TMJ).

This can cause headaches, tooth aches, and it may be loud enough to wake your partner up from their sleep. As a result, you may experience the following signs and symptoms: 

- Teeth are flattened, fractured, chipped or loosened. 
- Tooth enamel worn down, exposing the second layers of your tooth, and causing temperature and even sweet sensitivities 
- Tired or tight jaw muscles 
- Locked jaw (jaw that won't open or close entirely)
- Pain stemming from your ear feeling like an earache 
- Linea alba (from chewing your cheek) and 
- Disturbed sleep for you and your partner 

I don’t know about you, but if my sleep is disrupted over a long period of time, then it's game over for me. 

We may not realize the effect stress has on our teeth at the moment, but one day you will wake up and look into the mirror and be shocked to see the condition of your teeth. Sometimes at that point, it’s either too late or you need extensive dental work, and we all know how much we like having dental work done and paying out of pocket for it.  Let’s not make that mistake and let’s start paying attention to our mouths and invest in a professional nightguard (at the very least). It’s always easier to replace a piece of plastic than it is to replace a set of teeth. 

References

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bruxism/symptoms-causes/syc-20356095

Adriana Wood, RDH is a registered dental hygienist and is Sbenati Dentistry Certified. Certification at Sbenati Dentistry ensures that you get the World Class Dental Service at every single visit. She delivers consistent world class dental service to every single patient. Her passion is in educating patients and helping them maintain their oral health. She is a mother, has a dog, and loves to laugh (her laugh is very contagious). She would love to meet you and your family.

Come in and say hello.