Tooth damage caused by bruxism and poor diet
Stress levels appear to be rising across the UK and perhaps it’s not surprising. Firstly there was the stress associated with potentially catching Covid-19, followed by the anxiety associated with being in lockdown for weeks on end. Finally, just at the time when things seem to be improving slightly, some are reporting concern at being encouraged to return to work in an environment in which they don’t feel entirely safe.
Perhaps anxiety is inevitable at times like these, but it remains a fact that stress can have a negative effect on our overall health and also on our teeth and gums. In today’s Bradley and Partners Dental and Implant Clinic blog, we will take a look at two ways in which stress can affect our mouth health as well as offering some suggestions to help alleviate it.
How does stress affect our oral health?
There are two main ways in which our anxiety can be harmful to our teeth and gums. The first of this is Bruxism, or teeth grinding.
Although we may have seen characters do this in cartoons when something untoward happens, the reality is that for most of us, any teeth grinding tends to happen when we are asleep. This makes it very difficult to prevent, although mouth guards may be helpful in some cases. Grinding our teeth together for any length of time will inevitably have consequences and in more extreme cases, the teeth may even break or fracture. This is perhaps more likely where teeth have been previously weakened through damage or decay. Although this is dramatic, it is relatively rare and most of us who grind our teeth will suffer mainly from progressive enamel erosion.
As we grind our teeth together, the friction will slowly wear away the enamel layer of our teeth which helps to protect them from decay. Other problems associated with worn enamel include sensitive teeth and even root canal problems. There are options to restore teeth that have suffered in this way, such as crowns or dental veneers, but it is generally advisable that this is done when the patient has managed to stop grinding their teeth together.
The second way in which our teeth and gums can be harmed due to stress is when we let our diet slip and start to eat foods that are less ‘friendly’ for our mouths.
Most of us will probably admit to eating less than healthily when we are feeling under pressure. The chances are that we will start eating a lot more ’comfort foods’ including those that are high in sugar levels such as biscuits and sweets. In addition to this, we are likely to consume these products over a period of time, not allowing our saliva time to wash away much of the sugar. This ‘grazing’ method of eating is not good for our teeth even with healthier food, but with foods high in sugar, it greatly increases the risk of tooth decay and gum disease.