Stress related damage to teeth

The HSE has revealed that work-related stress has become an ‘epidemic’ with 595,000 workers reported as suffering from work-related stress, depression or anxiety over the last 12 months, with 239,000 of these representing new cases for 2017/18. However, it is not just our work that is suffering as multi-award-winning dentists at The Implant Centre reveal that they are seeing an ongoing increase in patients with severe wear on their teeth due to grinding their teeth, known as Bruxism, in times of increased stress.

Guy Barwell founder of The Implant Centre says; “The damaged teeth we are seeing appear to be getting worse, and this is not just in the older age groups where they have simply had more time to damage their teeth and wear the teeth down.  We are seeing more damage in younger patients to a level that we would not expect at their age.”

Whilst there are many factors that can cause the teeth to wear down including diet, lifestyle factors, alcohol and drug consumption and sleep disorders, the Bruxism Association has found that 70% of people clench their jaw and grind the teeth due to experiencing stress and anxiety.

The constant grinding of teeth can lead to, as shown in The Implant Centre patient pictures, the wearing down of teeth, fracture and eventual tooth loss.  Guy Barwell says; “The best way to protect teeth is to see a dentist to diagnose firstly when the wear is happening and then devise a treatment plan and prescribe a form of protective bite guard to help break the cycle. Sometimes changing a filling or adapting the bite with building up of the worn teeth is also necessary.  While some dentists advocate grinding teeth down to 'improve the bite', this is often felt to cause further harm and we don't feel this has a place in dentistry today.”

If anxiety or stress is the cause, then behavioural management and lifestyle changes are imperative. Mindfulness exercises such as yoga, meditation and relaxation techniques can all help manage stress and anxiety. Hypnosis was also found by the Bruxism Association to reduce the grinding of teeth.