Even here in beautiful Northwest Indiana, life can be stressful. Between work, school, finances, family, and simply running errands, things can feel pretty hectic at times. Sometimes the effects of stress can be just a straining as the stress itself. It can lead to irritability, anxiousness, and other negative emotions. It can also impact other parts of your body, including your teeth. Here are a few examples of how:
It’s amazing how our bodies respond to stress, even when we don’t realize it. One classic example is individuals who grind their teeth. Sometimes this occurs in the day, but often it happens at night during sleeping hours. Even if you don’t realize it, the grinding can be pretty distracting to those around you. In fact, tooth grinding is often first detected by spouses and significant others who are awoken in the middle of the night by grating done by the perpetrator. Unfortunately, grinding can cause issues much more severe than just occasional annoyance. Excessive grinding can wear down your teeth, leading to cracks, dullness, and even damaged nerves. When this happens, a root canal might be necessary to repair the damage. The best treatment is to prevent it from happening in the first place, and we can set you up with a guard to keep you from grinding your teeth as you sleep.
When stress comes about, how do you cope? For many people, the answer is food. Maybe you get overwhelmed and reach for a chocolate bar. Perhaps you catch yourself chomping on chunks of ice at the bottom of your drink. Maybe you reach for just one more cup of coffee to push through the day. Regardless of what you choose, it’s important to remember that what you put in your mouth matters. Consuming too many sweets, like candy and a soda, can cause cavities with time. Chewing on hard substances can damage your enamel, while drinking an excess of colored and acidic beverages can yellow your smile. Cigarettes and chewing tobacco are other common go-to’s when it comes to relieving stress. These substances can be particularly harmful because they come with a risk of oral cancer.
Do your jaws constantly throb? Do you hear your joints clicking more than normal? If so, stress might be to blame. If you find yourself constantly clenching your jaw, you’re likely experiencing other symptoms, too. Excessive pressure in your mouth can trigger aches and pains in your neck, shoulders, and more. It can also be linked to headaches, which can even be chronic when stress is pervasive.
Being stressed is no fun, especially when it impacts other parts of your body. If you are struggling, don’t hesitate to reach out to a therapist or other expert for advice and strategies for healthy coping. If you feel that your mouth is been negatively impacted by the pressures you feel in life, don’t hesitate to reach out and talk to us about your options for treatment!