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Stress and Teeth

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Life is stressful – and stress can cause symptoms like migraines, digestive issues, and many kinds of aches and pains. Stress can also cause teeth and gums to experience symptoms that include:

  • Enamel loss (erosion)
  • Tooth wear (abrasion)
  • Bite problems with sensitivity at the gum line (abfraction)
  • Sensitivity
  • Darkening tooth color
  • Cavities

Fight or Flight

Stress has an effect on our nervous system and produces a “fight or flight” response. These changes are useful for a short burst of strength and energy, but if the response is prolonged it can damage general and oral health.
This fear response alters the circulatory and nervous systems. Blood is shunted to heart and limb muscles, giving them improved efficiently to help us run from danger. Less useful parts of the body – like the digestive tract – get less blood and function less efficiently. Less minerals are absorbed into the blood from the digestive system, and less blood and minerals reach saliva-producing glands.

Oral Health Problems

Stress results is less saliva and saliva with less minerals, which is consequently more acidic. Teeth lose their normal saliva protection and their ability to repair and re-mineralize. Teeth can even be damaged by the acidic saliva as it sucks minerals from enamel, causing additional weakness and porosity.

Lack of protection leaves teeth to dissolve in acidic drinks or acid reflux (erosion). Teeth can wear away during toothbrushing or if a patient grinds their teeth (abrasion). Fragments of weak enamel can fracture at the gum line leaving a sensitive groove (abfraction).

What Can You Do?

All these problems stem from acidic saliva and the loss of normal tooth protection. Don’t try to “fix” the symptoms of sensitivity, weakness or erosion with a sensitive toothpaste or a plastic bite guard! First consider any reasons for chronic stress and check your diet, consider supplements, digestive probiotics, and how to calm your body and improve digestive health.

Tips for Protecting Teeth

1. Use xylitol mints and gum throughout the day to protect teeth from acidic damage.
2. Consider Zellie’s and Dr. Ellie's Complete Mouth Care System to strengthen enamel and reverse problems of sensitivity, porosity, and cavities, by naturally re-mineralizing enamel.

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