Sunday, June 12, 2011

Chronic Stress And Your Oral Health

Chronic stress is well-known to have destructive effects on oral health says Marietta dentist.   Millions of people are unaware that they clench and grind their teeth.  It can occur while awake or asleep, and the tempromandibular joint (TMJ) can be affected.  This is the joint that connects the jaw to the skull and if over-stressed, can become sore and radiate pain.  TMJ discomfort can be a manifestation of stress, and a dentist is your first stop for information.

The specific term for clenching and grinding teeth is bruxism.  Some people grind and clench without manifesting pain or complications, however others have excruciating, radiating pain.  Those with acute discomfort claim it feels like a migraine, sinus headache or even mimics wisdom tooth pain.  It can radiate down the shoulders and neck causing significant discomfort as the muscles in the face become increasingly stressed and tense. Grinding and clenching can cause teeth to become sensitive over time.  Some people are aware a problem exists years before seeking treatment, and wait for it to become acute.

TMJ can occur from a misaligned bite,  broken teeth, dental restorations, trauma, clenching or grinding. If the jaw develops degenerative changes, discs can swell, shift, click, and even lock.  The jaw can be sore enough to make chewing food difficult.

Teeth that are chipped, cracked or grinded down need repair from a dentist.  Repairing them helps keep the bite in the correct alignment.  Preventative treatment can be important before significant destruction to the tempromandibular joint occurs.   If a partner hears grinding at night, take action and alert your dentist.  He may suggest proactive treatment.

Treatments for TMJ include...

A dental appliance

Muscle relaxant medication

Anti-inflammatory medication

Chiropractic manipulation

Physical Therapy

Massage Therapy

Botox injections

Dry Needling



The night guard provides a cover to the chewing surface of teeth, stopping the constant contact. Since, much grinding happens when people are asleep and unaware, a night guard may be the only needed remedy for many. Avoid sleeping on your stomach.  This can cause the  jaw to unnecessarily to strain.

How to reduce the stress...

Exercise on a regular basis

Eat a balanced healthy diet

Get plenty of rest every night

Focus on the positive in life

Focus on eliminating stressful triggers

Practice relaxation techniques or yoga

Engage in relaxing hobbies

Make an effort to maintain a positive mental attitude

Reducing stress is important to oral health, as the risk of periodontal disease (gums disease) doubles in those affected by significant stress. People with increased stress levels also tend to increase poor habits such as eating junk food, skipping exercise or even forgoing normal oral hygiene practices.   It is best to do what you can to keep stress under control.

If you have sore jaws in the morning or are aware you clench and grind, perhaps speaking to a dentist is wise.  It may allow early detection of  a TMJ problem  before it becomes acute.  A simple fix can prevent more severe future problems with degenerative changes, says the dentist in Marietta, GA.