Stress can lead to wide variety of health complications such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and over time, can even lead to severe depression and anxiety.
But can stress actually lead to loss of your teeth?
Short answer: No.
Long answer: Yes.
Just because you have a stressful job does not mean you’re going to wake up one morning and find that your teeth have fallen out of your mouth due to the stress alone. The human body doesn’t quite work that way. However, stress can cause other health related issues, which in turn can cause the loss of your teeth.
There has been lots of talk about Demi Moore going on a late night TV. show recently and talking about how she “sheered off her two front teeth” due to stress. Demi claimed that stress caused her teeth to fall out, which technically was true, however it was due the other issues that stressed caused which actually lead to the demise of her two front teeth.
People who saw the segment came away with the impression that if you have a lot of stress in your life, your teeth could fall out of your mouth one day. Demi previously went on the Ellen Degeneres Show in 2010 and was quoted as saying: “I had a bad bite and knocked my own front tooth out, which basically fell out into my hand, and I just thought my warranty was up.”
It was this “warranty was up” part that most people took to mean that teeth have warranties and stress causes them to expire quicker. While stress itself cannot cause your teeth to fall out of your mouth, stress can cause other health related issues, which in and of themselves can cause your teeth to eventually fall out.
It has been said that over 70% of Bruxism cases have been linked to stress. Bruxism is when you excessively grind your jaw or teeth. There are two types of this condition: sleep grinding and awake grinding. Researchers state that if you use drugs, alcohol or tobacco it can exacerbate the problem exponentially.
The constant grinding of your teeth can wear down the enamel thereby causing the tooth to crack or break. In some cases it can even lead to TMJ, which is an issue with the joint of your lower jaw. The main fix for Bruxism is to have a plastic or rubber mouth guard made so your teeth stop grinding against each other.
Most people who have bruxism don’t even realize they have it. The grinding of the teeth is a reaction to the stress and in most cases people don’t consciously realize that they are grinding their teeth.
So, let’s review: Stress > Bruxism > Worn tooth enamel > Cracked teeth > TMJ
As you can see stress itself did not cause the tooth to crack and break. That was caused by the worn tooth enamel which was caused by the bruxism (excessive teeth grinding). Had bruxism not caused the teeth to grind up against each other over the course of a few months to a few years, the tooth enamel would not have worn out.
This could have been prevented by simply wearing a mouth guard. The mouth guard is specifically designed to prevent the teeth from grinding up against one another. Your dentist can easily fit you for a mouth guard and have one manufactured in a short period of time.
Scientists have recently discovered that stress can cause gum disease. This becomes a potentially huge slippery slope. When some people are stressed, they sometimes pick up unhealthy habits in order to emotionally cope:
- Pain pills
- Eating junk food/not exercising
- Not performing proper daily dental hygiene
So, in addition to gum disease being caused by stress; smoking and drugs and everything else can actually increase the rate at which your gums and teeth degenerate. Stress now becomes a literal ticking time bomb for your oral health and teeth!
The problem with this is that most people aren’t aware of it until it’s too late. They don’t realize their dental health is degrading because they’re so preoccupied with their stress and worries. Not to mention oral health and tooth issues don’t usually manifest themselves until it is too late. At this point you wind up with a massive tooth infection (and oral pain that you would not wish upon your worst enemy) or your teeth literally fall out of your mouth like in Demi’s case.
How to Prevent Stress-Related Tooth Loss
The obvious answer to this question is to lessen the stress in your life. For some people that is easier said than done.
We talked about how a rubber mouth guard can be used to help prevent your teeth from grinding up against each other, but what about gum disease and other tooth related issues? Stop smoking, chewing tobacco, drinking heavily, abusing drugs.
Another thing you can do is to visit a dentist on a regular basis. He/she will give you a dental checkup and let you know if they see anything you should be concerned about. It has been said that your dentists are usually the first people who can tell if you have stress in your life. It’s literally written all over your teeth, gums and mouth.
If your teeth do fall out there are many techniques out there to ensure that your smile continues to look its best, like dental implants. The implants are usually made out of a ceramic/titanium mix, which wears better than the original enamel your tooth came with. It’s not the ideal solution to the problem, but nobody will be able to tell they aren’t your real teeth.