Stress is a Real Grind
There are many things the COVID-19 pandemic made painfully clear. One of them is the relationship between stress and tooth sensitivity, among other dental issues. Although it’s not necessarily a direct cause and effect, stress can contribute to tooth sensitivity in several very important ways, including grinding and clenching, changes in diet, and preventative maintenance.
The Relationship Between Stress and Tooth Sensitivity: Grinding and Clenching Teeth
Grinding and clenching teeth are among the common physical responses to stress.
According to a July 12, 2021 ABC News report:
“There are a few risk factors that are associated with increased rates of bruxism [grinding teeth], including anxiety, highly stressful life circumstances and heavy alcohol use — all things that have increased across the population this year.”
When you grind or clench your teeth, you start to wear down the enamel that is protecting them, which often leads to sensitivity. Grinding also can have the effect of moving your teeth within your mouth, which contributes to stress and tooth sensitivity.
An American Dental Association (ADA) study released in March of 2021 confirms the prevalence of the problem:
“More than 70 percent of dentists surveyed by the American Dental Association (ADA) Health Policy Institute are seeing an increase of patients experiencing teeth grinding and clenching, conditions often associated with stress.”
Another Connection Between Stress and Tooth Sensitivity: Diet Choices
Another common cause for enamel erosion that relates to stress is diet. When we’re stressed, we tend to make different food choices like candy, or high-sugar carbs, and beverage choices like soda, coffee, and alcohol. These foods and beverages can be highly acidic and/or sweet, which we know contributes significantly to enamel erosion.
Preventative Maintenance, Stress and Tooth Sensitivity
Stress can also lead to a number of vicious cycle situations, like avoiding your regular cleanings, losing track of your dental hygiene routine, or letting issues like cavities or gum sensitivities go unchecked. The less care you take of your teeth, the more likely you are to have problems like sensitivity or worse. Check out our blog post about tooth sensitivity for more information.
We’ve been encouraged by how diligent most of our patients have been. Whether that’s you or not, we’d love to see you if you’re experiencing sensitivity. We hope you know you can contact us anytime with your questions and concerns. We’d be happy to discuss them with you on the phone or at your next appointment.
To schedule your visit now, complete our contact form, or call our office at 815-886-0875.
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