Can Stress Really Cause Tooth Loss

Dr. Samantha Rawdin discusses the link between stress and tooth loss.

This past week, The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon hosted actress Demi Moore. As an avid Tonight Show watcher, I (not-so-shamefully) pride myself on having deciphered the interview sequence they take with their guests:

Guest sits down. Jimmy welcomes guest. Jimmy brings up interesting, obscure detail about guest. Guest tells funny story having to do with interesting, obscure detail.

But this time, the story particularly caught my attention since they started talking about how said guest lost her two front teeth! Due to stress!

If you happened to watch the interview, and saw the part where Jimmy and Demi start praising modern dentistry, I know what you’re thinking. I should be thanking Jimmy for calling me a genius.THANKS JIMMY! Really appreciate the shout out. (Yea, yea. I know. He called all dentists geniuses. But a girl can dream, no?)

So yes. Modern dentistry is awesome. We can do really amazing things to replace teeth and make them look natural and beautiful. (Hence why I love my job.) BUT they didn’t really get to the core issue here. Demi Moore’s teeth fell out due to STRESS. As New Yorkers, it seems we’re always stressed. Should you be worried that one day you’ll just be walking down the street, all of a sudden you feel something fall out of your mouth, and when you look down you’re surprised to see it’s your tooth? In short, no. That’s really not how it happens.

Stress can manifest itself in the oral cavity in a few ways. The most common is bruxing, clenching or grinding your teeth. (Collectively, we call these parafunctions.) This habit can happen either at night while you sleep or during the day– especially while working out or dealing with an aggravating situation. If you continue with this habit for long enough, it will start to wear down your teeth. This does kind of sound like what Demi was saying in that she “sheared off” her teeth… but if you’re guilty of any of these habits, you typically see wear distributed on most, of not all of your teeth.

Interesting that the rest of Demi’s smile appears to be intact, no? Well I have another theory. My guess is that Demi suffers from a super common condition called periodontal disease. Periodontal disease occurs when bacteria that is not removed by regular dental cleanings travels down the root surface of the tooth, causing the gums and bone to be resorbed and thus reducing the stability of the teeth. Periodontal health is intimately linked to overall health. Stress, and all of the other systemic conditions that it is associated with, such as cardiovascular issues, nervous system issues and GI problems, can all exacerbate periodontal disease. This loss of support of the teeth in combination with stress and parafunctional habits can, in fact, cause your teeth to literally fall out of your head.

But, this isn’t something to freak out about. These changes occur over a long period of time. Bottom line? Make sure you see your dentist for regular check ups. Tracking these changes over time is the best way to diagnose early and treat any issues you might have before you start dropping teeth like coconuts falling from a tree.

I give Demi a ton of credit. In an industry where you’re supposed to be flawless all of the time, it must not be easy to plaster a photo of yourself all over the internet, sans one front tooth. It would be a very vulnerable state for anyone, let alone a movie star. Kudos to Demi for bringing the dental consequences of stress to the forefront of pop culture at her own expense.

5-Top Tips To Help Unclench Your Jaw

Constant clenching and grinding your teeth when you are tense is a condition called Bruxism. The continuous stress on your jaw can lead to TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorder), a painful condition that can cause neck, head and jaw pain and clicking of the jaw. Painful symptoms include head and neck aches, worn down teeth and enamel, jaw pain and tightness as well as swollen jaw muscles and facial pain. Treatments include reducing stress, using a mouthguard and making a special effort to relax your jaw and face throughout the day.

The following are some tips on how to alleviate the discomfort and soreness:

  1. Gentle stretching- Place your thumb and forefinger under your chin. Keep your thumb in place while opening and closing your mouth.
  2. Place your tongue on the roof of your mouth. Open and close your mouth.
  3. A warm, wet washcloth on your TMJ (jaw joints) will feel so good!
  4. If pain persists see your dentist and consider a mouth guard.
  5. Avoid chewing gum or bagels- eat softer food!

New Evidence Reconfirms Link Between Periodontal Disease And Heart Disease

A new study from The Netherlands finds that people with chronic gum disease have a significantly higher rate of heart disease and

stroke http://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-gums-heart-idUSKCN10Y238. This adds to a growing body of research

linking gum, (periodontal), disease to heart disease and strokes. It is significant because it reviewed the health records of over 60,000 patients.

 

While researchers are not completely sure of how to account for this link, the working

theory is that the body reacts to inflammation by elevating certain chemicals in the blood.

In the short run, these factors fight inflammation but in the long run can damage vessels in

the heart and other organs. The chronic inflammation of gum disease may contribute to

these inflammatory factors being constantly elevated.

 

So while the evidence may not be 100% conclusive, it seems that keeping the teeth and

gums clean and healthy, not only improves dental health but general health as well.

The Scoop On Ice Cream And Dental Health

Summer’s here and the heat is rising. On these hot sultry days, ice cream and other ice-cold sugar-packed treats are hard to resist. Here are some tips on how to indulge, without putting your dental health at risk.

Ice cream is a good source of calcium, which keeps the teeth healthy. But unfortunately it’s packed with sugar and consuming too much can lead to decay, cavities and gum disease.

Moderation is the key to maintaining your pearly whites. Consider ordering a scoop of sugar free or low sugar ice cream, in your favorite flavor. You should also avoid the extra sugary toppings offered at your local ice cream parlor. Sidestep the gummy bears and crushed cookies and substitute with delicious chopped fruit. Your teeth will thank you!

After consuming your frozen treat, brush your teeth whenever possible. If you can’t brush, rinse with mouthwash or simply drink water to help wash away the sugar from the surface of your teeth or gums.

Citrus frozen treats The rules for frozen treats containing citrus acid, like lemon, orange or grapefruit sorbet, are different than ice cream. If you’ve consumed anything acidic, you should avoid brushing your teeth for at least 30 minutes. Brushing too soon afterwards can damage enamel in its weakened state.

Ice Many of us get into the habit of crunching on ice cubes, especially when the weather is hot.  Resist the urge, or you could break a your tooth or injure your gums.

Nothing wrong with enjoying a scoop of your favorite flavor during these lazy hazy days ahead, as long as your remember to brush and floss. Have a fun and healthy summer!

 

 

 

National Women’s Health Week (including dental health!)

It’s National Women’s Health Week this week and we’re making women’s health (including dental health) a priority. Here are some dental health issues that are related to women.

Gum Disease – Research shows a link between gum disease and a variety of health problems that affect women.

  • Heart disease – Women with gum disease may be more at risk for heart disease, which is also the number one killer of American Women.
  • Pregnancy Outcomes – Pregnant women with gum disease might be more likely to have a baby born too early or too small. Gum disease may also trigger increased levels of biological fluids that induce labor.

Female hormonal changes can affect oral health

  • Menstruation – Some women’s gums swell and bleed prior to their periods, while others might experience sores or canker sore.
  • Oral contraceptives – Inflamed gums are a common side effect of birth control pills.
  • Pregnancy – Studies show some pregnant women experience gingivitis, when dental plaque accumulates and irritates the gums.
  • Menopause – Oral symptoms during this stage of life might include red or inflamed gums, oral pain and discomfort, altered taste sensations and dry mouth.

Eating disorders – More prevalent among women, eating disorders can lead to increased dental caries and erosion of tooth enamel.

Women should be aware of their special oral health requirements, during different stages of their lives. Brushing and flossing daily and seeing their dentist regularly is, of course, the best way to maintain dental health throughout their lifetime!

 

 

Start Kids Early With Good Dental Care

jed

Dr. Jed Best, everyone’s favorite pediatric dentist, is our guest blogger in honor of National Children’s Dental Health Month. He answers questions about how to start kids early with good dental care, helping protect their teeth for years to come.

When should a child’s first visit take place?
Either 6 months after the first tooth erupts or at one year of age.

Why go to the dentist at that age?
To help prevent any dental problems. Many issues are totally preventable.

Are baby teeth important?
Yes they are. They help children speak and chew naturally. In addition, they are very important in helping the permanent teeth erupt properly.

Are thumb sucking and pacifier habits harmful?
Only if they persist for a long period of time. Often these habits stop on their own.

How often should a child see a pediatric dentist?
A check up is recommended every six months. However, this may vary depending on the child’s personal oral health.

When should we begin using toothpaste?
As soon as possible is best. Under three years of age, only a smear of toothpaste should be used. From ages 3-6, the size of a pea is the recommended amount. Also, it should be emphasized that an adult should assist in brushing, because children often do not have the manual dexterity to properly brush.