CANAM Smile Makeover

HOW STRESS CAN AFFECT YOUR TEETH – AND WHY YOU NEED TO TAKE CARE OF IT BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE

Stress is causing damage to your teeth. You can ignore it. But it will only get worse. If you don’t address this issue promptly, it’s not only your smile that will be ruined. A dentist can help more than just your tooth health …
Yes, your teeth reveal more about your health than you realize. So let’s examine your health a little deeper, shall we? Are you suffering from stress?
Here are a few common symptoms:
Bruxism
Bruxism, more commonly known as grinding or clenching, can destroy your teeth and lead to gum disease. Grinding is when you move your jaw back and forth, which results in the loss of tooth enamel. Clenching is when you press your top and bottom teeth together with pressure. Grinding and clenching can happen while asleep or awake. Obviously, you typically won’t realize this while asleep. Perhaps surprisingly, you typically won’t realize this while awake either.
Bruxism can lead to headaches, gum recession, swollen and painful jaw muscles, snapping or clicking jaw muscles, sensitive teeth, chipped teeth, and cracked teeth. It can also wear down your teeth, sometimes dramatically altering your smile. Gum graft surgery, root canals, crowns, bridges, dentures – those procedures and prosthodontics are not always necessitated due to poor oral hygiene; more and more, they are the result of grinding and clenching.
The most effective way to avoid the effects of bruxism is with a nightguard. This is a device made of plastic that can be hard or soft and placed on either your top or bottom teeth for use while sleeping. (Most dentists recommend you get a nightguard for your upper teeth – only because that’s often more comfortable.)
Some day-clenchers even choose to wear these while working on a stressful project or watching TV. A good nightguard can cost anywhere from $400 to $600, but probably less than $100 in Mexico. A nightguard will protect your teeth from further bruxism.. It will also restore the proper spacing between your upper and lower teeth and help resolve bruxism-related headaches and pain.
Gum recession and gum disease
Most people don’t realize how seriously stress can affect gum health and, in turn, heart health, as you’ll learn here. Your gums are the tissues that hold your teeth in place. Gingivitis is gum inflammation. This usually happens before periodontitis, otherwise known as gum disease. In this stage, you’ll likely notice inflamed, red, and swollen gums that can bleed when flossing or brushing. At this point, it is still reversible.
Periodontitis is a far more severe condition, characterized by deep pockets that form in between teeth. This increases your chances of tooth loss. If you have advanced periodontitis, you may require dental surgery.
Flap surgery, also called pocket reduction surgery, is when your periodontist (gum specialist) makes cuts in your gums to carefully fold back the tissue. This exposes the tooth roots for more effective scaling and root planing.
Heart disease, stroke, rheumatoid arthritis, and pancreatic cancer
People with gum disease have two to three times the risk of having a heart attack, stroke, or other serious cardiovascular event.
The connection between poor oral health and overall health may not be limited to cardiovascular disease. Studies, such as this one, have linked periodontal disease (especially if due to infection with a bacterium called Porphyromonas gingivalis) and rheumatoid arthritis.
In addition, a 2018 study found a link between this same bacterium and the risk of pancreatic cancer. However, as in the case of the connection with heart disease, an “association” is not the same as causation; additional research is still needed to assess the importance of these observations.
Temporomandibular disorders (TMD) 
TMD is related to jaw and neck muscles due to severe and prolonged clenching and grinding caused by stress. These disorders make up a group of more than 30 conditions that cause pain and dysfunction in the jaw joint and muscles that control jaw movement.
“TMD” refers to the disorders, and “TMJ” refers only to the temporomandibular joint itself. You have two TMJs, one on each side of the jaw. If you experience a ticking sound or pain when moving your jaw, it can be a symptom of TMJ.
Dry mouth and canker sores
When you are under stress, you are more likely to breathe more heavily – and more likely to be a heavy mouth breather. Not only can this lead to choking hazards, but it can also increase your risk of cavities. If you suffer from anxiety, it can also lead to chewing your tongue and cheeks, which can lead to canker sores and mouth ulcers.
Scalloped tongue
Dry mouth and dehydration can lead to swelling in your body, including painful swelling of your tongue. The swollen tongue can then push against your teeth and create scalloped edges over time. High levels of stress and anxiety can express themselves in a multitude of ways in the body.
The bottom line
Whether the link is direct, indirect, or coincidental, a healthy mouth and a regimen to keep it that way (including not smoking and getting regular dental care) can help you keep your teeth. That’s reason enough to do what you can to make oral health a priority.
Stand by for more studies on the link between oral health and overall health. Until then, keep brushing, flossing, and visiting your dentist.
And never neglect your oral health, or your entire health may be affected.
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