HEALTH BEAT 9-1-1999

Meetings & Conventions: Short Cuts September 1999 Current Issue
September 1999
AppleShort Cuts:

If you're harboring stress, there are dozens of ways it can manifest itself, but did you know that it can hit you right in the teeth? Studies show unhealthy levels of stress can affect your dental well-being.

Dry mouth is a common stress-related problem that compromises one of the best natural defenses against tooth decay and gum disease, according to Richard Price, DMD. A consumer adviser for the American Dental Association, Price, based in Newton, Mass., is on staff at Boston University's dental school. "Without saliva," says Price, "cavities can run rampant."

Bruxing, a nonfunctional mashing of the teeth, is a more serious symptom. "You can see wear patterns," says Price, "and bruxing can cause tooth fractures or painful joint disorders." Split tooth syndrome, says Price, is reaching epidemic proportions, in part because "we're living increasingly stressful lifestyles."

The dentist can help somewhat. "Dentists can create plastic mouth guards that patients wear at night," says Price. They can help distribute the force of the grinding pressure on your teeth and greatly reduce the odds that you'll need more frequent trips to the dentist's chair. That might knock the stress-o-meter down a couple of points.


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