We hold stress in different parts of our body. Headaches, backaches, sore muscles, a crick in the neck – these are all common places that tension settles. Stress may cause you to gain weight or lose weight, sleep too much or not enough. And one of the biggest places to find evidence of stress is in the mouth and jaw. A variety of oral health problems can develop from worry and anxiety but preventive dentistry measures can combat the issue.

Do You Grind Your Teeth When Stressed?

If you have an unconscious teeth-grinding and clenching problem, it will manifest quickly with signs like:

  • Aching jaw
  • Jaw tenderness
  • Popping noises when opening or closing the mouth
  • Locking jaw
  • Pain while chewing
  • Tension headaches
  • Ear pain
  • Facial pain

This teeth-grinding can be caused by a temporary bout of stress and resolve itself when your worries dissipate, or it can be chronic, leading to more discomfort, pain, and oral health problems as time goes on. Without treatment, grinding your teeth can lead to serious problems with your teeth and gums.

The Serious Side Effects of Teeth Grinding and Clenching

Many oral health complications can arise from chronic bruxism – grinding and clenching your teeth.

  • Broken teeth: Teeth are incredibly strong. They are meant to bite and grind up the food you eat – not gnash against each other. Your teeth are powerful enough to break each other.
  • Damaged dental work: Dental restorations are meant to last for a long time, but without proper care, they can deteriorate. Grinding your teeth can destroy a filling, crown, veneer, or other repair or enhancement.
  • Worn enamel: Over time, teeth that consistently push against each other will wear away your tooth enamel, affecting the appearance and function of your smile.
  • Gum recession: Teeth grinding can damage the gums, making them recede from the teeth, leaving you susceptible to gum disease, other infections, and an altered appearance.

When you have damaged teeth and gums, you may need several dental restorations. Porcelain crowns can cover a severely compromised tooth. Tooth-colored fillings can correct broken or chipped teeth.

If you’re not feeling stressed but you’re having jaw pain and soreness or problems with your teeth, the issue could be one of misalignment. Rather than trying to diagnose yourself, it’s important to see your general dentist and get the right treatment for your condition. You may need a nightguard to stop the side effects of teeth grinding, or you may qualify for a round of Invisalign or Six Month Smiles.

Correct Your Oral Health Problems

It’s important to get any jaw or mouth pain addressed quickly to avoid unnecessary discomfort and damaged teeth and gums. When stress is behind your problem, you can turn to treatments like meditation or yoga to try to expel the tension in your body. But when stress shows up in your jaw, you will need a dentist’s help to combat it.

If you are experiencing jaw pain, damaged teeth or dental work, or suspect that you have a teeth-grinding problem, schedule an appointment with Smiles by the Sea, your family dentistry practice in Hampton, New Hampshire. Contact us today.