Have you ever had that dream where your teeth feel a little loose and you start to wiggle them with your fingers, one at a time, just to see if it’s just your imagination, but it’s not and they come off, one by one, in your hand until you’re left with bare gums and a belly full of stress? Well, it turns out that this (relatively) common stress dream is actually a reversal of what happens in real life.

While most would be stressed by a sudden onset of loose teeth, it’s also true that stress oral health are closely linked. “Stress does more than make you anxious; it also affects your physical wellbeing, including your oral health,” says Alan L. Frame, Cosmetic and Family Dentist. “Researchers have discovered a strong link between depression and anxiety and dental problems.”

Just like with the health of our cardiovascular and digestive systems, we can support our oral health by being aware of the effects of stress on our mouth and jaw and learning to minimize tension and its effects. Here are 10 facts about stress and oral health.

1. Grinding
Perhaps the most common effect of stress on the mouth is the onset of grinding, called bruxism, which normally occurs at night while we sleep. We may not even know that it is happening, but a dentist would notice the wear and tear of the enamel along the edge of the teeth that have been ground down. The treatment for this condition is to wear a night guard, preventing further deterioration of the teeth in addition to jaw and temperomandibular joint problems.

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