The Effects Of Stress On Your Teeth

Why dentists are seeing more cases of cracked and damaged teeth due to stress

A report in the Independent has recently suggested that dentists in the USA are seeing a greatly increased number of patients coming to them with cracked or chipped teeth. Much of this is thought to be due to stress related to the Covid-19 situation. The same can probably be said of the UK, and if, as it seems, the number of cases are starting to get significantly higher again, this is probably only likely to get worse before it gets better.

In today’s Mike Allen dental blog, we will take a look at the damage that stress can do to your teeth (and your gums) but also look at ways you might be able to reduce it and methods of restoring your teeth when damage has occurred.

Stress – a growing problem

Stress can occur for many reasons, some of them personal and, to a large degree, out of our control. Some cases, such as when caused by a bad relationship, can improve when it ends. Others may continue for longer and may be related to work or our health. Today, of course, there are undoubtedly a lot of people that have seen a rise in anxiety due to the current global pandemic. With cases now dramatically rising, many of us will already have noticed that we are becoming more stressed again, especially those who may be under additional restrictions to help stop the spread of the virus.

Whilst we all wish that the virus would just go away so that we can get on with our lives, it is likely to be around for some time yet and planning ways to reduce our stress levels, especially over the colder winter months, will benefit our mental well being as well as physical. It will also help to prevent at least some harm to our teeth too.

Damage caused by stress

At Mike Allen’s Dental Practice in Burton, one of the things that we look for during a check up, in addition to decay, are small cracks and chips of the teeth as well as signs of wearing of the enamel. One common cause of these problems is stress and is caused by people grinding their teeth together, often whilst they are asleep. This problem is commonly known as bruxism and can have devastating effects on our teeth as well as causing jaw problems and, in some cases, headaches too.

Both worn enamel and cracks in the teeth mean that it also becomes easier for bacteria and acids to enter the inner part of the teeth, causing them to decay or for the root canals to become infected. It is essential then, to avoid this damage in the first place, or at least to have any damage treated as soon as possible.

A stress reduction strategy

This may seem easier said than done, but you can, at the very least, try to reduce the amount of stress that you experience. There is no single solution and each person will need to discover what works best for them. Below, we offer a few thoughts that might help. Many stressful situations are unavoidable and much of the stress comes from trying to control the uncontrollable. Taking Covid-19 as an example; the reality is that it is here and unless you directly work on vaccines etc, most of us can do little about it other than to follow medical guidelines to both reduce our chances of getting it and to reduce its spread.

Related to the above, it is easy these days, with 24 hour news and social media, to become obsessed with stressful situations like this. Whilst it is important to stay informed, it is equally important not to let it take over our lives. Try turning off the news and avoiding social media periodically and do something that you enjoy instead.

Exercise and fresh air

There is little doubt that exercise, especially outdoors, is greatly beneficial to our mental health. Going out for a walk in the fresh air will help to reduce your stress levels and help you to realise that there is more going on in the world than just the virus. Although it is getting colder now; as the Swedes say, there is no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes for it! Wrap up and enjoy the outdoors when you can.

Dental restorations

If you have been grinding your teeth, it is important that you do all that you can to try to reduce your stress levels. This will make it easier to restore your teeth and allow them to stay that way. Naturally, we will need to examine you to determine what treatments are needed, but there are several options that can be used as follows:

Cosmetic bonding – This is usually only used where any cracks or chips are relatively minor and cosmetic. It is not a long term solution for more significant damage.

Fillings – White tooth coloured fillings can be used to restore a damaged tooth and leave it with a natural look.

Crowns – Where a significant breakage has occurred, a dental crown may offer a better level of strength than a filling. It is may also offer better longevity too.

Veneers – Where a front tooth has been affected, and depending on the type of damage, a porcelain veneer can provide a great way of restoring a damaged tooth.

Whether you are planning to ‘hunker down’ for the colder months ahead or make the best of them, do try to find a way to keep your stress levels under control. Both your general and oral health will thank you for it. If you do have damaged teeth that need attention, please call us at our Burton dental clinic on 01283 845345.