You probably know that your anxiety can cause all kinds of seemingly unconnected symptoms throughout your body, such as a racing heartbeat, diarrhea, and even chest pain. Unfortunately, your mouth isn't immune to the possibility of anxiety symptoms.
Whether it's from an anxiety disorder or simply because you have a high-stress job or living situation, anxiety can damage your teeth as well. Here are three types of potentially anxiety-related tooth damage to watch out for.
1. Worn down enamel
Holding tension in your jaw is a natural result of being under stress, whether it's from interpersonal pressure or from generalized anxiety. And it's a short step from tense jaw muscles to a clenched jaw, which puts undue pressure on your enamel.
Clenching your jaw frequently appears along with nighttime tooth grinding as well. Tooth grinding can wear away at your enamel very quickly; severe tooth grinding may occupy hours of time each night, while you're unaware that your enamel is being destroyed.
2. Dry mouth
Dry mouth can either be a direct symptom of anxiety or a byproduct or complication. For example, it can occur as a side effect of anxiety medication, or it can occur if you're breathing rapidly through your mouth instead of taking calm breaths through your nose.
Dry mouth may sound fairly innocuous, but if it happens frequently, dry mouth can severely retard the natural remineralization of your enamel. Saliva carries minerals to your teeth to help them rebuild after minute acid erosion events that happen at each meal. The less access your tooth surfaces have to saliva, the less they can rebuild after meals. This can lead to sensitivity and cavities.
3. Cracked or chipped teeth
Another possible byproduct of jaw clenching and tooth grinding is cracked or chipped teeth. The more you grind your teeth and the thinner your enamel gets, the more likely your teeth are to be structurally compromised. Then, if you eat really crunchy food or grind your teeth especially hard one night, you could end up with a chipped tooth or one that's cracked all the way across.
These are just three of the ways in which anxiety can negatively affect your oral health. Be sure to let your dentist know if you have anxiety and if you tend to clench your jaw. You may need a night guard to help protect your enamel at night, or you may need treatments to help you fight off dry mouth before you develop cavities throughout your mouth.
For more information, contact a dental office like Bewick Keary DDS.