This week, actress Demi Moore appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Kimmel to promote her new movie, Rough Night, where she stars opposite Scarlett Johansson–a character whose bachelorette weekend goes hilariously awry.
As part of the interview, Moore shares an image of herself with a missing front tooth. She says she actually lost both her front teeth, and she says the reason is stress. Although some people have expressed doubt about losing teeth to stress, this is actually possible. Usually, the tooth loss is mediated by other factors such as bruxism, gum disease, and tooth decay.
Bruxism, Stress, and Tooth Loss
Bruxism is the technical name for teeth clenching and grinding. For many people, stress can trigger bruxism. This can damage and even destroy teeth.
When people brux, they can exert much more force than with typical biting and chewing. It requires a force of less than 30 psi (pounds per square inch) to eat most foods. However, bruxers have been recorded putting nearly 1000 psi on their teeth!
This can cause tooth loss in many ways. Moore described the experience as having her tooth “sheared off,” which sounds like her tooth cracked during an episode of bruxism. This is certainly conceivable, but it’s not the only way that bruxism can cause tooth loss.
The force from bruxism won’t always damage the tooth itself. It may actually damage the bone and support structures around the tooth. Tooth trauma has been known to cause the complete resorption of bone around a tooth, causing it to essentially fall out. Based on the picture Moore showed, this seems like it could be a plausible mechanism for her tooth loss, too.
Another way that bruxism can lead to tooth loss is through gradual wearing down of the teeth. Constant stress on the teeth can slowly wear away the enamel, then the dentin. Eventually, the tooth is so weakened that it cracks, or the pulp in teeth is exposed, causing it to get infected. This doesn’t seem to be what happened to Moore.
Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss among adults in the US. It has also been associated with stress, and it could have contributed to Moore losing her tooth.
Gum disease is when bacteria infect the tissue around your teeth. This can damage the tissue so it can’t support your teeth anymore. Your teeth may then fall out or be forced out by bruxism.
Gum disease is more likely in people who are chronically stressed because stress can suppress your immune system, making you more vulnerable to infection. And when people are stressed, they may also neglect oral hygiene. Sometimes, drug or alcohol abuse can also play a role in stress-related gum disease.
Tooth Decay and Enamel Erosion
The same factors that increase your risk of gum disease can also make tooth decay more likely if you are stressed. Stress may also change your diet, causing you to stress eat, which disproportionately tends toward sugary foods and drinks. This can make your teeth more vulnerable to breaking under stress.
Enamel erosion can also make your teeth vulnerable to breaking, and it can be caused by stress. As we noted above, stress can affect your diet, causing you to drink more sugary sodas that are highly acidic and can erode your enamel. Wines–both white and red–are also highly acidic and erosive.
Stress is also commonly cited as a trigger for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which causes stomach acids to bubble up into your throat and mouth. These acids can attack your teeth and gums, making you more vulnerable to tooth damage and loss.
Protecting and Restoring Teeth
If you experience high levels of stress, it’s important to identify the effects on your teeth before there is too much damage. Let your dentist know if you’re experiencing high stress levels and if this is causing you to clench or grind your teeth, change your diet, or change your oral hygiene routine. Your dentist can help you develop a plan to protect your teeth from stress-related damage.
And if your teeth are already damaged, your dentist can help you restore them. If your teeth are damaged, a porcelain filling or crown might be used to restore it. On the other hand, if you have lost one or more teeth like Demi Moore, dental implants can be used to replace them.
If you are looking for a dentist in Fairfax County, please call 703-323-8200 today for an appointment with Dr. Marzban, DDS, in Burke, VA. We not only offer restorative dentistry, we can also use myofunctional therapy to help you avoid damaging bruxism.