Even celebrities aren’t immune to the effects of stress. Just ask actress Demi Moore, who said on a recent episode of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, that she “sheered off her front teeth” from stress. She even shared a picture of herself with a missing front tooth to warn the audience that stress can lead to a ton of health problems. Of course, experts say, your teeth won’t just fall out from a hectic day at work. It’s the result of tooth grinding, gum disease and other factors over time. Here’s the scoop on how stress can cause oral health issues:
When you’re tense, you may unknowingly grind your teeth throughout the day and even while you sleep. This can cause pain in the temporomandibular joint (better known as TMJ), which connects your jaw to your skull. Your dentist may need to give you a mouth guard to prevent tooth damage and sensitivity from wearing down your enamel through grinding. To cut the habit, WebMD also suggests avoiding alcohol, which can make grinding worse. In addition, try to cut back on caffeine.
When you’re stressed, you may forget to floss, brush or see your dentist for regular check-ups. But neglecting oral hygiene can create plaque build-up and an environment for gingivitis, which is an inflammation of the gums. Stress may also tempt you to eat more junk food, which contributes to the plaque problem, a submission in the Industrial Psychiatry Journal points out. (Check out “5 Foods and Drinks That Damage Your Teeth” for more.)
Canker sores can be quite annoying. If you’ve never had one, they form inside of your mouth and have a small—but painful—white or gray center with a red edge. Sometimes you can get them by accidentally biting your mouth or eating acidic foods, but experts say stress may also increase your risk. The good news is they go away after several days, but if you get them a lot, your dentist may actually prescribe you a steroid ointment, WebMD says.
Stress can cause your mouth to dry out, which can in turn cause bad breath. When you’re in a particularly stressful situation, stay hydrated with plenty of water (and cut back on the caffeine). And if you’re chronically stressed, bad breath may be an ongoing issue.
How do you manage your stress? Share your tips below!