The negative effects of stress on your health are well-documented. While it can serve as a natural defense mechanism, prolonged periods of stress can increase your risk of some health issues, including heart disease, sleep deprivation, depression, obesity, and memory impairment, among many others. Not many people realize, however, that stress can also help to erode your oral health from the inside out. Syosset dentist Dr. Richard Kobak explains the dangers that excessive stress can pose to your oral health.
Stress and Teeth: Direct Damage
If you are like most people, you may clench your jaw or grind your teeth when you are angry, stressed, or upset. While it may seem trivial in moments of emotional distress, the constantly grinding your teeth (a habit called bruxism) can lead to extensive tooth damage and wear. Usually, tooth grinding is more dangerous at night, as most patients tend to grind their teeth in their sleep without realizing it. If stress is a factor in your bruxism, however, then you may clench and grind your teeth as much during the day as you do at night, often just oblivious to the action as if you were asleep. Damage caused by bruxism can include chipped or broken teeth, excessively worn tooth enamel, and malocclusion (a misaligned bite) due to excessive wear of your teeth’s chewing surfaces. TMJ disorder, which affects the joints of your jaw and is signified by extreme jaw discomfort, is also linked to the habit of bruxism.
Stress and Teeth: Indirect Damage
Extreme stress can also affect your eating habits, including quality and frequency, as well as your oral hygiene habits. Often, stressed out patients become lax in their dental hygiene routines. Depression and lethargy can make someone less likely to care for their physical and oral health. In some cases, time constraints are the source of a person’s stress, and they cannot bring themselves to waste a whole two minutes to properly brush and floss their teeth, much less visit the dentist every six months. Poor oral hygiene can rapidly deteriorate your oral health, especially in conjunction with poor dietary choices.
Stress and depression do not usually disappear overnight, but remaining conscious of the fact that you must maintain your physical and oral health can help prevent your condition from causing extensive damage. To learn more about risks to your oral health, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Kobak, call our Syosset dental office at (516) 433-2211. We welcome patients from Long Island, Nassau, Suffolk, and the surrounding New York City neighborhoods.