You probably know that too much stress can have negative impacts on your physical and mental health, but can stress cause you to lose your teeth? Sadly, the answer seems to be yes. Actor Demi Moore revealed on The Tonight Show that she she lost one of her front teeth to stress.
"I sheared off my front teeth,” Moore told The Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon. “I’d love to say it was [from] skateboarding or something really kind of cool, but I think it’s something that’s important to share because I think it’s literally, probably after heart disease, one of the biggest killers in in America, which is stress. Stress sheared off my front tooth."
Before you panic, Mark S. Wolff, D.D.S., Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Cariology and Comprehensive Care at the New York University College of Dentistry, told Glamour that just because you're stressed doesn't mean your teeth will suddenly fall out of your mouth. It's a bit more complicated than that.
Think of some of the things that happen to your body when you're under stress. You might clench your jaw, or grind your teeth. If you clench and grind your teeth to an extent that they loosen, then the supporting bone can be destroyed, which can cause tooth loss, Wolff confirmed, though he added that losing a front tooth is less common.
According to Delta Dental, the technical term for grinding your teeth and clenching your jaw is called bruxism. "Although it can be caused by sleep disorders, an abnormal bite, or teeth that are missing or crooked, it can also be caused by stress and anxiety," an article on Delta Dental noted. "Nervous tension, anger and frustration can cause people to start showing the signs of bruxism without even knowing it."
Many people may not even be aware that they are grinding their teeth, especially if they aren't showing other symptoms, like headaches or jaw pain. Symptoms of bruxism include the tips of your teeth appearing flat; noticing that your tooth enamel is rubbed off, causing extreme sensitivity, and tongue indentations.
According to an article published on Softpedia, a study suggested that the hormone cortisol, which is elevated when you're stressed, could be involved in the possible relation between stress and periodontal diseases.
"One researcher revealed that higher amounts of cortisol can provoke increased destruction of the gums and jaw bone due to periodontal diseases," Softpedia reported. "And untreated periodontal diseases (periodontitis) ultimately induce bone loss or tooth loss. Periodontitis is provoked by bacteria that adhere to and grow on tooth surfaces (microbial plaque or biofilms), particularly in areas under the gum line."
Good grief, this is making me feel even more stressed. As if there aren't enough things to worry about without feeling stressed about losing teeth because you're stressed. Ugh. The good news is that regular trips to the dentist (everyone's favorite, right?) can help you get ahead of any problems. For teeth grinders the dentist might recommend a bite guard to wear at night to halt any further deterioration.
And, if you do lose a tooth (I got one of my front teeth knocked out in a T-ball accident as a kid) this is the 21st century so your dentist can fit you with a cap that looks just like the real thing.