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What really happens when your teeth get stressed?

The effect of stress on your teeth and our experts' advice on what you can do to get things back on track

A recent study found that stress affects 8.2 million people in the UK and can show up in a wide range of ways including sleepless nights, hair loss, panic attacks, weight loss and anxiety—even dental problems.

Teeth grinding is a common side effect of stress and can cause tooth wear, yellowing teeth, jaw pain, headaches and tooth loss, according to dental experts. A study by the Bruxism Association found that teeth grinding is most commonly found in 25-44 years olds, but can impact both children and adults.

Specialist Oral Surgeon and EV Editorial Panel member, Dr Sami Stagnell, says, “From a dental point of view, bite guards are very useful in preventing the damaging effects of bruxism by both protecting the teeth from trauma, as well as helping reduce or dissipate biting forces and limit neuromuscular mechanisms of clenching and grinding.

“The effects of muscle tension aren’t just noticed in the jaws or around the head. Physiotherapy, which often involves massage and stretching exercises, might also be useful. These exercises are tailored to the patient and can also help manage the symptoms like neck and back ache, along with specific exercises to relax your jaw.
“I am a big advocate of alternative solutions, such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) as part of stress management, which is a great means of addressing the root causes of problems like bruxism that often start from stressful situations. I believe the self-awareness elements of these therapies can contribute massively.”

If you’re a long-time teeth-grinder, you may notice a yellowing of the teeth – often an after-effect of long-term bruxism.  This is caused by the erosion of tooth enamel, making the yellow hue under the white enamel more visible.

However, there are simple steps you can take to ensure your teeth remain white while you tackle the other health issues.

Resident dental expert at White Glo, Jordan Kirk, says: “Anytime enamel is eroded, teeth discolouration can happen. It is important to reinforce and protect the enamel with a top-quality fluoride toothpaste. If you notice a yellowing on your teeth, I recommend a deep stain remover, like White Glo’s charcoal toothpaste, to get things back on track.”  

If you are concerned about your oral health, make an appointment with your dentist or arrange a remote consultation with a specialist on EV. They will be able to provide you with one-to-one, tailored advice to address your specific concerns.

Sami Stagnell, Oral Surgeon

It's a pleasure to meet you! My career started off in dentistry and my early jobs were in both dental practice and oral...

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