With the 2016 presidential election, many of us confront a whole new level of election stress and the new level of stress-related dental health problems. With our politics so polarized, millions and millions of Americans will greet the election of a presidential candidate they do not favor as a sign that the country does not speak to them or for them. And they may not have the expectation or the hope that it will, again, ever. This fact may well create real anxiety/stress and genuine despair in half the nation.
In fact, according to a survey released recently by the American Psychological Association (APA), 52 percent of American adults do see the election as a significant source of stress in their lives. According to the survey, men and women are equally likely to be feeling election-related stress. And it turns out that this type of stress is bipartisan: 59 percent of Republicans and 55 percent of Democrats say they have it. The survey also found that people who report that the election is a source of stress have a higher overall stress level than those who don’t find the election stressful.
Unfortunately, too much stress can cause problems with your mouth, teeth, and gums. So if you’re feeling tense or anxious, you should keep a watchful eye for signs of the following stress-related dental health issues.
Bruxism is the technical term for grinding teeth and clenching jaws. 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. Nervous tension, anger and frustration can cause people to start showing the signs of bruxism without even knowing it.
Because people are often not aware that they grind their teeth, it’s important to know the signs and to seek treatment if you suspect you may have bruxism. Some signs of bruxism include:
- Tips of the teeth appear flat
- Tooth enamel is rubbed off, causing extreme sensitivity
- Tongue indentations
Our friendly Downtown LA dentists can examine your teeth to determine whether you may have bruxism and, if so, suggest the best treatment.
TMJ (TMD) refers to a group of conditions that affects the jaw joint (temporomandibular joint) and the associated muscles used in moving the jaw and neck. Stress is thought to be a factor in TMJ. Stressful situations can aggravate TMJ by causing overuse of jaw muscles, specifically clenching or grinding teeth, as with bruxism. But even if you aren’t seeing signs of bruxism, such as flat tips of teeth or decreasing tooth enamel, you may still experience other symptoms of TMJ, such as jaw joint pain or popping and clicking of the jaw. If you experience any of these, you should check with your dentist to see if TMJ may be the cause.
Studies by SUNY at Buffalo, UNC, and UM found that emotional factors played a significant role in the development of adult periodontal disease. Researchers also discovered that the severity of gum disease increased with amount of stress.
In addition, the researchers found that those at greatest risk for gum disease were those who were highly emotional in dealing with stress. But there’s a good news: Patients who dealt with their stress in an active and positive manner had no more risk of severe gum disease than those without emotional problems.
Dealing with Stress-related Dental Health Issues
One of the best ways to fight the negative effects of stress is to remove the source of stress. Also, counseling, exercise, relaxation, meditation, or even massage and physical therapy may help reduce your stress level.
It’s also important to continue to practice good oral hygiene when under stress. To prevent stress-related dental health issues you should continue to brush twice a day and floss every day.
Depending on your stress-related dental health issues symptoms, your favorite Downtown Los Angeles dentists at River Dentistry may be able to recommend some specific treatments for your stress-related dental health issues. So please call and ask us about our current Bruxism-fighting dental night guard, toxin injection TMJ treatment, or periodontal deep cleaning specials if you feel that you need help with stress-related dental health problems. We will even check your benefits to see which stress-related dental health treatments are covered under your plan.