It’s no secret that living through these unprecedented times has created unprecedented amounts of stress. Whether it’s navigating a global pandemic or seeing the empty shelves at the grocery store thanks to supply chain issues, the last two years have been anything but easy. But did you know that all that stress can also cause tooth injuries?
Stress can wreak havoc on your health. In fact, the National Institute of Health (NIH) says that chronic stress can disturb the immune, digestive, cardiovascular, sleep, and reproductive systems.
Read on to learn everything you need to know about stress-related tooth injuries, and what you can do to prevent them.
The Connection Between Stress and Your Teeth
According to the American Association of Endodontists (AAE), our natural teeth are meant to last for life. Unfortunately for us, that’s not always the case, and stress could be partially to blame.
Dentists have reported a rise in cases of cracked teeth and dental related injuries throughout the pandemic, and this increase could be due to pandemic-related stress. With that in mind, it’s not surprising to learn that cases of tooth grinding — otherwise known as bruxism — are on the rise as well.
A crack in your tooth can occur from injury or even general wear and tear caused by grinding or clenching your teeth, which is a symptom of stress. You should reach out to your dentist if you experience any of the symptoms of a cracked tooth, including unpredictable severe pain when chewing, or pain when your tooth is exposed to hot and cold food or beverages. It’s normal for the pain to come and go, but you should still see your dentist right away.
A chipped tooth is painful, but it’s also one of the most common stress-related injuries. Your general dentist can repair most chipped teeth either by reattaching the broken piece of tooth enamel or by bonding a tooth-colored filling or crown in place. Schedule an appointment with your dentist to repair your chipped tooth.
How to Prevent Stress-Related Tooth Injuries
Like many other dental issues, there are things you can do to prevent stress-related tooth injuries. Managing stress levels is the best place to start. Recognize the signs of your body’s response to stress, such as difficulty sleeping, increased alcohol and other substance use, being easily angered, feeling depressed, and having low energy. Aim to get 30 minutes of exercise each day to help your stress management, and consider finding relaxing activities or hobbies. Most importantly, reach out to your primary care physician if you need more help navigating stress.
You can also take steps to make your teeth less susceptible to cracks by not chewing on hard objects, such as ice, unpopped popcorn kernels, or pens. Consider wearing protective mouth wear like a mouthguard to mitigate damage from grinding your teeth. And as always, remember that practicing healthy dental hygiene habits — like brushing your teeth twice per day, flossing daily, and regularly visiting your dentist — can be the best ways to prevent stress-related tooth injuries.
Given the changing dynamics of the pandemic, it can feel overwhelming to keep up with necessary appointments. Rest assured that seeing your dentist for routine oral healthcare or a specialist — such as an endodontist here at Endodontic Specialists of Colorado — is safe. Our offices and staff strictly follow all Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), American Dental Association (ADA), and AAE guidelines to ensure patient safety, health, and well-being.
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You deserve a healthy, beautiful smile, regardless of stressful conditions. Our team of doctors here at Endodontic Specialists of Colorado remain dedicated to restoring our patients’ smiles, while keeping them as comfortable as possible.