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.

Broken tooth on vacation?

What happens when you break a tooth on vacation? Dr. Samantha Rawdin is on-the-job providing tips on how to manage this dental emergency:

You’ve been planning for months. Flights are booked. Bags are packed. You finally

arrive at your destination… and then your tooth breaks.

What’s a vacationer to do?! Well, it’ll depend on a few things…

If you’re in pain…

…you should seek help right away. If you’re in a hotel, ask the concierge. Usually

they can direct you to a dentist near by. If you’re not in a hotel, but still in the U.S.,

you can go to the American Dental Association website (www.ada.org) and utilize

their “Find-a- Dentist” tool. It has some advanced search options to help you narrow

down your results. If you’re out of the country, things can be a bit trickier.

Depending on where you are in the world, dental care can be very good or not so

good.

If you can get to a pharmacy…

…try to find a product that helps with toothaches—they’re usually found in the

dental aisle. They come in gums, gels and pastes and can be applied to the sensitive

area. Be sure to follow the instructions, as they can vary slightly among brands.

Can’t get to a pharmacy?

A piece of (sugarless!) chewing gum can help protect a sensitive area from irritants.

You can also try putting desensitizing toothpaste, such as Sensodyne, directly on the

area and then covering it with gum. If you can find it, a drop of clove oil on a cotton

swab can have a palliative effect.

If you have a cap/crown/temporary/veneer that came off…

…you have a few options. Pharmacies typically have some sort of temporary cement

for at-home use. Again, be sure to follow the instructions. Before using, try to clean

the inside of the restoration as best as you can to remove excess cement or debris.

Then, try it in a few times so you know which way it goes. Mix up the cement, place

only enough inside the restoration to coat the surface in a thin layer and seat the

restoration. Bite down gently, but be sure to bite down all the way. Clean up any

excess with a cotton swab or toothpick before it hardens. If you can’t find temporary

cement, denture adhesive will work as well. Just be aware that you’ll need to replace

it a few times per day. If you’re not in pain and the temporary isn’t staying in well,

take it out before you go to sleep so you don’t swallow it.

And whatever you do, don’t use Krazy Glue! Still confused? Call or e-mail us. Even if

we’re not close by, we can probably at least help point you in the right direction.

And, of course, be sure to come see us as soon as you get home!

Getting Personal About HPV and Oral Cancer

Dr. Samantha Rawdin gets personal about HPV and Oral Cancer:

April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, and as a member of the medical community dealing directly with the oropharynx (including the mouth and throat), this is something that we feel our patients and readers should be aware of. Although it doesn’t always get the attention that other types of cancer receive, oral cancer is still a prevalent issue in the U.S. Almost 50,000 people will be diagnosed with oral cancer this year and one person every hour of every day will die from it.

Tobacco use and alcohol consumption still remain the greatest risk factors for developing oropharyngeal cancer, but the fastest growing population of people being diagnosed are young, healthy, non-smoking individuals with Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). Now, this is where things get a little weird. HPV is a sexually transmitted disease that can occasionally manifest in the oral cavity. Since your dentist is usually the only one examining your mouth on a regular basis, finding one of these lesions can lead to conversations you wouldn’t otherwise expect to have with your oral health care specialist.

According to an article this week in the New York Times, more than forty-two percent of Americans bewteen the ages of 18-59 are infected with HPV. In adults aged 18-69, 7% have an oral HPV infection and 4% have the high-risk strains that can cause cancer in the mouth and throat.

The good news? Over 90% of HPV infections are gone from the body within 2 years.  But, just to be on the safe side, make sure your dental professional is doing a thorough oral cancer screening. And don’t feel bad about asking– it’s something that should be a routine part of their examination anyway. If you see or feel something that’s not quite right in your mouth or throat that sticks around for longer than two weeks, such as discoloration, swelling or irritation, make an appointment to see your dentist or doctor. If you are visiting them on a regular basis, changes will be easier to spot and may be easier to manage.

Millennial’s Poor Oral Health Impacts Job Prospects

Are you a millennial looking for a job? Forbes says you may want to visit your dentist first… https://www.forbes.com/sites/dianahembree/2017/03/28/why-some-millennials-arent-smiling-bad-teeth-hinder-28-in-job-search/#c8642d359c6a
Here’s Dr. Sam Rawdin’s proven oral health tips for millennials.

This week, Forbes reported on an American Dental Association (ADA) study that showed 28% of millennials feel the state of their teeth and smile has a direct impact on their ability to interview for jobs. The ADA also showed that one third of millennials are reluctant to smile—that’s higher than any other age group! And, even though 80% plan to visit the dentist in the coming year, only 30% actually made the trip to the dentist over the last 12 months.

 

Why are millennials falling behind on their oral health care? It seems like a dental visit is analogous to… well… pulling teeth. What do we know about millennials? Falling within this age group myself, I can attest to the fact that convenience is key. We want necessary tasks done instantaneously in a way that’s super easy to access, preferably without the inclusion of human interaction. The thought of picking up the phone to make an appointment ensues the highest level of procrastination. And face-to-face interaction with strangers is basically out of the question…

 

Unfortunately, going to the dentist checks all of these boxes. You need to (most of the time) call to make an appointment, take time out of your busy schedule to actually get yourself to the office and then have to explain why your gums are bleeding during your cleaning to the hygienist (who, I promise, is NOT judging you!). I get it, it’s not the most glamorous situation and it’s easy to see why most avoid it. BUT, as I’m sure your dentist has told you in the past, biannual visits is still the best way to keep your teeth in a condition where you’ll be proud to flash your pearly whites.

 

We can’t cover the topic of convenient dental care without addressing the elephant in the room: money. Bottom line is that dentistry is expensive. Unfortunately, many millennials are earning entry-level salaries, paying off student loans and trying to hang onto a few dollars to go to that new restaurant so they can send a Snap Chat to their friends. C’mon, you know you’re guilty of that too… So, paying for dental care isn’t always at the top of the list.

 

Dental insurance can help, but there are a few inherent issues here. First, according to the ADA, millennials are less likely than any other age group to have dental insurance. Plus, yearly maximums for dental insurance are typically around $1,500 depending on the provider. These maximums have not really changed since the concept of dental insurance was made around 40 years ago. You know what has changed? Inflation. What this means is that if you’re coming in twice a year for regular cleanings, exams, and x-rays, you’re probably covered. However, if you need any other sort of extensive work done, you may need to pay out of pocket.

 

So what’s a millennial to do?

 

  1. Make an appointment to see your dentist. Many offices (like ours!) offer a form on the website that you can fill out to then be contacted via e-mail to get you scheduled. No phone call needed.

 

  1. Plan ahead based on your personal situation. If you have dental insurance, check to see if your provider is in- or out-of-network, if you’ll be responsible for a co-pay at the time of your appointment and what percentage of the cost of the procedures the insurance provider will cover.

 

  1. Ask the front desk if there’s an option for a payment plan or if they accept payment through companies such as CareCredit who allow you to pay over time. Most of the time, if you need to foot a big bill, the office will work with you.

 

  1. Don’t wait to go to the dentist, especially if you’re in pain. Chances are, the earlier a cavity or other issue is seen, the easier (and less expensive!) it is to fix.

 

If you’re not sure about any of these, overcome your aversion to human interaction and call us. We’re here to help! And, once you make your appointment, we may even agree to take a selfie with you when you’re ready to show off those pearly whites on all of your social media platforms.