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The Connection of Stress & Tooth Sensitivity

Stress. The dreaded word that affects nearly everything else in our body in a negative way. Have you ever thought of the effect it can have on your mouth? It’s true. Nearly all our patients that have high-stress levels feel it in their teeth or jaw. We see it all the time. A patient is scheduled for a limited exam due to jaw pain or tooth/teeth sensitivity. We start asking questions and boom. They are stressed and clenching and grinding. There are so many issues stress can cause in the mouth and thankfully solutions we can offer to help give you relief and protect those pearly whites from permanent damage.

Clenching and Grinding

Clenching and grinding can cause a slew of problems in your mouth. This is typically secondary to stress or tension. Most people don’t even realize they are doing it. If it is happening while you are sleeping, there is a good reason why you don’t realize it. However, some people clench all day if they are stressed. Waking up with headaches, your teeth aching, or jaw pain is a sure sign you are most likely clenching and grinding when you sleep. Your bed partner may be able to listen for it as well.

Gum Recession

Gum recession is where the gumline has pulled back away from the tooth, exposing the root. Clenching and grinding can cause gum recession. The structure of the root is different than your actual tooth and not as strong and protective. This is where the sensitivity comes in, whether it be to temperatures or certain foods or just an ache in general. Once the gum has receded, there is no way to grow it back. The only way to gain more coverage or support is to have a procedure called gum grafting done where they use your tissue from the roof of your mouth or cadaver tissue to help cover the root surface exposed. At this point, I’m sure you are thinking “That sounds terrible. I would never have that done.” The good news is it’s not that terrible. The better news is you don’t have to have it done if you don’t clench and grind and wear a nightguard. A nightguard? What’s that?


We call this little piece of acrylic an insurance policy for your teeth. That’s right. It can help save you loads of money due to the protection it offers while you sleep. We see it all too often: people with fractures, enamel worn away, gum recession, broken fillings, and even broken teeth. Excessive jaw pain is the worst when you can hardly open or close or eat your favorite foods. So now you are wondering, “How do I get one of those?” A nightguard is an easy treatment procedure. It involves taking a digital scan of your teeth, sending it off to the lab and coming back in 7-10 days to have it seated. Seated means we try it in, make sure it fits comfortably and have you practice taking it in and out. The beauty of a custom nightguard is that it’s fitted to YOUR mouth, it is not bulky, and snaps in so you can sleep peacefully. The science behind a nightguard shows the appliance itself takes the beating of clenching and grinding and not your teeth. Keep in mind an over the counter nightguard is typically soft and will not provide the same benefits as a hard acrylic one. A custom nightguard is an investment but is most definitely worth it for the future of your teeth.

If you are experiencing signs and symptoms of tooth sensitivity, clenching, or grinding, call us today at 614.526.8842 for a consultation on how we can help protect your teeth and give you the relief you have been waiting for.