Dr. Barotz here. Most of you are probably aware how stress can wreck havoc on your body, but you may not realize that it can also ruin your teeth. Stress can cause problems like bruxism – the medical term for teeth grinding or clenching, and to the increased production of cortisol, a hormone which is released by the body during stress that can advance periodontal disease (gum disease). Periodontal disease, left untreated, can ultimately lead to bone and tooth loss. In fact it is the major reason why adults loose their teeth.
If bruxism isn’t treated, it can result in broken or chipped teeth, the need for dental restorations, pain in jaw muscles, tension-related headaches and problems with the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), which joins the jaw to the head.
TMJ disorder can mimic migraine headaches, earaches, sinus infections and tooth abscesses. It can cause dizziness, ringing in the ears and muscle pain that radiates down the neck and shoulders. Women have more TMJ problems than men — possibly because the jaw muscle bulks up in men.
If you feel you have developed bruxism or TMJ, get in to see your dentist. Have your dentist do a complete exam to see if you are grinding your teeth or if may have periodontal disease. The most common treatment for TMJ is a night guard. Barotz Dental uses the NTI device, which is smaller, custom-fitted for your bite and more comfortable than the regular mouth guards. You can find over-the-counter mouth guards, but they generally don’t last long and really offer you little protection.
If you are one of the millions of American who has periodontal disease, there are some amazing new developments that can help save your teeth. In fact, just this month Barotz Dental announced that we are now offering a new state-of-the-art laser gum therapy (one of two practices in Denver) that not only treats gum disease but can regrow lost bone and tissue! The results are amazing!
The point I am trying to make is that sometimes the holidays add to an already stressful time in your life, and if you aren’t taking measures to decrease that stress, you’re on the road for even more anxiety by developing dental problems.
Stress Warning Signs and Symptoms
Inability to concentrate
Seeing only the negative
Anxious or racing thoughts
Irritability or short temper
Agitation, inability to relax
Sense of loneliness and isolation
Depression or general unhappiness
Aches and pains
Diarrhea or constipation
Chest pain, rapid heartbeat
Loss of sex drive
Eating more or less
Sleeping too much or too little
Isolating yourself from others
Procrastinating or neglecting responsibilities
Using alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs to relax
Nervous habits (e.g. nail biting, pacing)