Can Stress Ruin Your Teeth? | James Heller DMD | A premiere cosmetic dental practice in Easton Massachusetts

James Heller DMD

Can Stress Ruin Your Teeth?

Stress and Oral Health

Can Stress Ruin Your Teeth?

Stress and Oral HealthNot flossing is bad for your gum health. Eating foods that are high in sugar can give you cavities. Crunching on ice can crack your enamel. But can stress ruin your teeth?

In 2017, actress Demi Moore claimed stress was responsible for her two front teeth falling out. “I’d love to say it was skateboarding or something really kind of cool,” she told Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show after getting implants to replace her missing teeth, “but I think it’s something that’s important to share because I think it’s literally, probably after heart disease, one of the biggest killers in America, which is stress.” And science backs her up. 

A 2006 study of individuals with chronic stress and depression in Brazil found that they had a higher incidence of dental plaque and bleeding gums. And in 2009, researchers in the US and Canada found that people who had higher levels of stress, depression and the hormone cortisol, also known as “the stress hormone,” were more likely to have gum disease.

Stress can cause people to clench and grind their teeth, which, if not corrected, results in cracks or even breaks. But that’s not all. Grinding your teeth can also cause serious damage to the jaw joint in the form of TMJ. While the cracks and breaks can be repaired by crowns or root canals, and painful TMJ usually goes away on its own, for a longterm solution to teeth grinding, the root cause (stress) would need to be treated.

Another explanation for why stress wreaks havoc on your oral health is that stress can weaken your immune system, creating more bacteria than your mouth can handle. People with stress or depression might also be ignoring their teeth. If you’re in the midst of divorce, or being sued (like Moore was in 2015 after a house guest drowned in her pool), the last thing you’re probably worrying about is your teeth. 

But can stress alone cause teeth to fall out? Probably not. The main reason most adults lose teeth is because of gum disease. Of course, stress-related teeth grinding and a weakened immune system can help speed things up in the tooth-loss department. But don’t stress, if you’re worried that stress might be ruining your teeth, make an appointment with Dr. Heller to treat any conditions that might be exacerbated by your anxiety. As for the stress? Try some deep yoga breaths every time you’re feeling anxious. And if things are really overwhelming,  you might want to talk to a professional.

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