Stress is something that is bad for your overall health. It can impact your body’s ability to grow and heal, and lead to long-term health consequences. It also affects your oral health, and can lead to long-term damage to your smile.
In perhaps the most dramatic case we’ve heard of, an official claims the current president of South Korea, Moon Jae-in, has lost twelve teeth to job stress.
Heavy Grind the Teeth That Wear the Crown
The account of tooth loss comes from Mira Sun, the ambassador from South Korea to Poland, who worked with President Moon when he served the previous president. She reported that he had lost 10 teeth while working for the previous president. Since then, she said, he has lost two more teeth.
Sun joked that her colleagues teased her because she hadn’t lost any teeth while serving under two presidents, saying that meant she just wasn’t working hard enough.
South Korea has a deeply ingrained culture of hard work. South Koreans work on average more than any other developed country except Mexico, averaging 2113 hours of work per year. In contrast, US workers only put in an average of 1779 hours per year. This is not to say that US workers don’t also lose teeth to work stress. Actress Demi Moore famously said she lost two teeth to stress a couple years ago.
So how does one lose teeth to stress?
Bruxism and Stress
One of the biggest dangers stress poses to teeth is bruxism–teeth clenching and grinding. Teeth clenching and grinding can put many times more force on your teeth than normal biting and chewing. This clenching and grinding can cause teeth to wear down, chip, or crack, and be lost. The stress can damage more than your teeth: it can damage your jaw joints. Jaw joint damage can contribute to the development of temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ).
Changes to Hygiene
Another big problem with stress is that you may find yourself too exhausted to keep taking proper care of your teeth. If you’re completely worn out from your day, you may not want to take the time to properly brush and floss your teeth at the end of the day.
This may not be a conscious choice: you might just doze off unexpectedly because your body just can’t stay awake anymore. Whether you choose not to brush or just fall asleep, failing to clean your teeth properly can increase your risk of cavities and gum disease.
Another big problem with stress is that many people are stress eaters. If you are more likely to snack when you’re stressed, you’re exposing your teeth to more instances when oral bacteria are feeding and excreting acid on your teeth. This increases your risk of cavities and gum disease.
The risk is heightened by the fact that many of us tend to reach for sugary snacks in this situation, as well as acidic beverages like soda that also contain sugar. Acidic beverages increase erosion on your teeth.
For many people, stress leads to digestive problems, including acid reflux. When this acid enters your mouth, it can dissolve the enamel from your teeth, making them more susceptible to chipping and cracking. The combination of decay and erosion with bruxism is particularly damaging to your teeth and can cause the rapid loss of many teeth.
A Mind-Body Solution to Tooth Loss in Rochester
Understanding how things like stress affect your oral health can help you to do better at protecting your teeth from damage. That’s why we believe in holistic dentistry, which takes all the relevant factors into account when helping you preserve your teeth. We can help you assess the risk that stress poses to your teeth, and if necessary refer you to help for aspects of stress that we can’t address. We can also help with tooth replacements like dental implants if you have already lost one or more teeth to stress.