Stress is defined as a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances. The state of being stressed is usually due to change in routine or a life event. There are a number of positive life events that can be stressful. For example, starting a new job, a new school, childbirth, planning a wedding, or getting married. And there are also unfortunate events that can lead to stress such as illness or the passing of a loved one.
The emotional state of stress is a personal experience and can only be determined by the individual who feels it. The physical effects of stress can include headaches, chest pains s, perhaps a skin breakout, jaw clenching or tooth grinding. The physical effects may be noticed by loved ones or doctors in some cases. Stress can lead to high blood pressure and a change in vital signs that is detectable. Even a routine doctor visit can cause a person stress initially. This is known as White Coat Syndrome.
Stress leads to a rise in the fight or flight hormone known as epinephrine. This causes dry mouth. So a person may notice dryness of their oral mucosa. Dry mouth increases the risk of cavities. The best way to address dry mouth is to drink plenty of water, and use pastes or rinses like biotene. Biotene soothes and relieves dry mouth while providing a balanced pH similar to saliva. It is also beneficial to use fluoride mouthrinses like ACT to prevent cavities (caused by dry mouth).
Another common finding with stress is grinding our teeth. This leads to tension in our facial muscles and sometimes popping and clicking in our jaw joint. The best way to prevent grinding and reduce its effects is to have a nightguard. This protects our teeth from wear (attrition) and prevents tension in our jaw muscles. Grinding can contribute to bone loss and cause tooth mobility.
The effect of stress on our teeth ranges from dental caries (cavities) and wear (attrition) to temporomandibular joint disorder (jaw joint problems).
If you or someone you know is interested in an oral evaluation to preserve your beautiful smile, you can contact us at Museum Smiles. We are conveniently located within a few minutes of Downtown Fort Worth.