Stress is a part of daily life and somewhat unavoidable. Some stress is even beneficial and surprisingly enjoyable (perhaps the rush of your favorite rollercoaster). It can get your heart pumping and may leave you feeling energized!
However, feeling overly stressed can affect more than just your willingness to share your smile–it can even affect the health of your mouth itself.
Social Stress and Bruxism
A new study by Tel Aviv University researchers, published recently in the Journal of Oral Rehabilitation*, finds that anxiety experienced in social circumstances elevates the risk of bruxism – teeth grinding which causes tooth wear and fractures, as well as jaw pain.
“This is not a dental problem, but one with clear dental consequences,” said Dr. Ephraim Winocur of the Department of Oral Rehabilitation at TAU’s School of Dental Medicine. “If we are aware, then we can bring it into consciousness. Psychiatrists can identify patients predisposed to bruxism and can try to help prevent it, and dental experts will immediately know what to treat.”
The study assessed 75 men and women in their early 30s using questionnaires. One group of 40 people had social phobia, characterized by excessive fear in social situations. A control group of 35 did not have social phobia. All the subjects underwent psychiatric and dental exams. Bruxism symptoms and oral habits, such as gum chewing, nail biting, and small jaw movements with no tooth contact (“jaw play”), were all assessed.
Interestingly, moderate-to-severe dental wear was found in 42.1% of the social phobia subjects and 28.6% of controls. Symptoms of awake bruxism were reported by 42.5% of social phobia patients and by 3% of controls. The study concluded that interaction with people seems to be necessary to trigger bruxism in socially anxious people.
We Can Help
Chronic teeth grinding (bruxism) can result in fracturing, loosening and even the loss of teeth. It also can affect your jaw joints and muscles resulting in TMJ/TMD. Dr. Issacson can customize a treatment plan to help restore the health of your teeth and jaws and protect them against any further damage.
TMJ therapy is designed to reduce your pain, increase function, and improve your quality of life by using the most advanced technologies available in neuromuscular dentistry. These technologies, matched with our Bloomington dentists‘ extensive training and experience, make it possible to design individualized treatment plans with extremely successful results.
If you are experiencing negative effects caused by teeth grinding, call us today at (952) 881-8404 or contact us for a friendly consultation. We promise to make your visit as stress-free as we possibly can while protecting your dental health, giving you good reasons to smile again!