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.

Food For Thought During National Nutrition Month

Chew on this. Neglecting your teeth leads to tooth decay, periodontal disease, bone loss and even tooth loss. Nutrition plays a big role in all this. We need to eat the right foods to keep our teeth strong. March is National Nutrition Month, a good opportunity to take a bite out of your worst eating habits.

Here are some tips on what nutrients to include for healthy teeth and gums:

Protein– Include eggs, beans, peas and legumes in your diet. Cook up some lean meat poultry and eat approximately eight ounces of seafood a week.

Calcium – About 99 percent of our calcium reserves are stored in our bones and teeth and not getting enough can lead to periodontal disease. The best sources of calcium are dairy products such as milk and yoghurt. But certain green leafy vegetables are rich in calcium as well as sardines and salmon,which can boost your calcium intake.

Studies have shown that in order for calcium to fully absorb into the body it needs to be paired with phosphorus.

Phosphorus– Most dairy products contain both phosphorus and calcium, but unfortunately many calcium supplements don’t have phosphorus in them. Foods high in phosphorus include milk, cheese, yoghurt, red meat, beans, lentils, nuts and whole grains.

Iron – Our red blood cell count depends on iron to help the body’s immune system to fight against disease and infection. Fighting against gum disease and oral infection becomes difficult when the body is low on iron. Protect your immune system with iron rich foods like eggs, seafood, red meats and green leafy vegetables.

Fluoride – Dentists encourage their patients to use toothpaste with fluoride to fight tooth decay. Boost your fluoride supply naturally by drinking tap water, black tea and eating seafood.

Vitamin A – Essential for keeping your mouth’s saliva supply flowing, it helps maintain mucous membranes that coat your gums and cheeks, making them less vulnerable to disease. This vitamin can be found in Bugs Bunny’s favorite snack, carrots, as well as fruits, vegetables, dark leafy greens like kale and spinach as well as in proteins like egg yolks and fish.

Vitamin B – The best way to fight off mouth sores and oral inflammation with Vitamin B found in niacin and riboflavin. Foods such as poultry, fish, red meats, dairy products, spinach and legumes are rich with these vitamins.

Vitamin C- Gingivitis can develop without adequate Vitamin C. It also helps the body maintain itself as well as repair bones, teeth and cartilage and helps wounds heal.Put generous portions of oranges, grapefruits, strawberries, kiwi, peppers and broccoli on your plate.

Zinc – A mineral found in saliva, Zinc has been proven to fight against the growth of bacteria and plaque. Help increase the presence of Zinc with foods like cashews, red meat, pumpkins seeds, squash and legumes.

Cook healthy on us! Like or comment on any of our Facebook posts for the month of March and be entered to win a cooking class!

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Top 5 Oral Symptoms Of Diabetes

Your dentist might be the first to know you have diabetes or pre diabetes. Especially since most adults visit their dentist annually, usually more often than their regular doctor, it’s the perfect opportunity to screen patients for oral symptoms. Approximately 26 million Americans have diabetes according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and more than 7 million don’t know they have it.

The following are the top 5 oral symptoms of diabetes:

!. Bad breath that won’t go away

2. Bleeding gums each time you brush or floss

3. Teeth that are loose or moving away from each other.

4. Gums that pull away from your teeth.

5. Finding pus between your teeth and gums, when you press on gums

“Diabetes has reached epidemic proportions of the last few decades with about 40% of the US diabetic or pre-diabetic. While research is ongoing, there is some evidence that gum (periodontal) disease and diabetes are linked with the diseases affecting each other. In other words, people with diabetes may be more susceptible to gum disease and people with gum disease may be more susceptible to diabetes. There is also some evidence that resolving active gum disease can lessen diabetes. If you have been diagnosed with diabetes or pre-diabetes, it is especially important to keep your gums as healthy as possible,” says Dr. Andrew Koenigsberg of Gallery57Dental.

Be sure to provide a complete medical history at your next dental visit, informing them of any recent health development even if they are unrelated to your dental health. Here’s more information about risk factors from the American Diabetes Foundation http://www.diabetes.org/are-you-at-risk/.

 

 

 

 

 

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.