Stress, Headaches, and Your Teeth

After the holidays, we finally get the chance to breathe. From planning parties to buying gifts, there is always something else on our to-do list. Although the holidays allow us to have cherished time with our friends and family, they can also create a lot of stress. You may notice that when you have an increase in stress, you have more headaches than normal. Additionally, you might notice changes in your teeth. Do you know that your teeth, headaches, and stress can all be related? 

Stress can cause issues with your teeth, and your teeth can cause headaches. Round and round, one issue causes another, seemingly in a circle. If you can reduce your stress, you may be able to help your oral health and reduce your headaches. 

Young man holding her nose in pain indicating a headache while working oral health dentist in Manhattan New York

Teeth Grinding

If you grind or clench your teeth, you may have a condition called bruxism. Bruxism occurs when you grind your teeth or clench your jaw, typically in your sleep. While experts can classify bruxism as a sleep disorder, many people have been known to clench their jaws or grind their teeth in response to stress, anxiety, or anger. 

Grinding your teeth can cause significant damage to your teeth over time. When you grind your teeth, you put excess stress on the points and ridges of your teeth. Your teeth cannot handle the added stress, which can cause your teeth to chip or break. 

Another side effect of teeth grinding is constant headaches. As you grind your teeth, it puts additional stress on your jaw joints and muscles. When the muscles tighten, it can cause tension headaches. In fact, your face can be sensitive to touch. 

Poor Oral Hygiene

During high periods of stress, it is common for people to take care of their teeth less than they normally would. As a result, they may have more plaque buildup. Unfortunately, plaque can cause tooth decay and gum disease. The beginning stage of tooth decay starts as a cavity, which is a small pit of decay. 

As the cavity progresses, the decay will burrow deeper into the tooth. Cavities can cause tooth pain. As a result, the pain in your tooth can actually cause headaches. This is because tooth pain can trigger the trigeminal nerve. The trigeminal nerve is responsible for transporting the sensation of pain, touch, and pressure in your face. When you have a toothache, it can trigger a headache. 

Additionally, stress can cause you to eat a diet that is full of sugars and acids. Many processed foods contain a lot of saturated fats and sugar. Unfortunately, the increase in sugar and acid can create more plaque and cause more tooth decay. 

When you are stressed, it can cause you to have heartburn, which is a condition where you produce excessive amounts of stomach acid. This acid can irritate the lining of your stomach and esophagus. Unfortunately, increased acid can damage your enamel.