It's true -- teeth are one of the first parts of our bodies to suffer when there is too much stress in our lives. That's a big problem, because Americans already deal with a high level of stress. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 40% of U.S. workers report that their job is very or extremely stressful.
But this doesn't mean that you have to let your oral hygiene or teeth suffer. In order to make your smile the brightest it can be, here are some warning signs that your teeth are becoming permanently damaged by stress.
Achy jawIf you are feeling a throbbing, aching, or dull pain in your jaw after you wake up, chances are you are clenching your teeth at night. Clenching can mean you are overworking your jaw muscles and repeatedly clenching your teeth without any protection, which can cause a compromised jaw muscle.
Cheek bitingConstant cheek biting is linked to high levels of stress and anxiety. This habit can also lead to abscesses or canker sores that can be hard to treat. And if these sores go untreated, there is the potential of spreading bacteria into your teeth and gums.
Translucent teethHealthy teeth should always be opaque, but sometimes the tips and edges can start looking clear and translucent. This may be due to the condition Bruxism, which is also a teeth-clenching disorder. Unfortunately, once your teeth change color, you'll have to undergo a treatment to have them color-matched to the rest of your teeth -- color loss is permanent.
Bleeding gumsIt is normal for your gums to bleed once in a while, especially if you haven't brushed or flossed recently. But consistent bleeding is a big problem because it can mean you're suffering from periodontal disease, which can lead to tooth loss or receding gums. Like anything else, this disease can be brought on or exacerbated by stress, and since your immune system is already compromised when you're stressed, this could lead to a host of problems when fighting off infection.
Cracked or damaged teethIf your teeth are cracked, damaged, or even falling out, this can be a sign you have a serious problem with your oral hygiene. Also take note if you are seeing this happen with your front teeth, as they are not usually affected by stress clenching. If they are suffering from sudden damage, something is seriously wrong.
Considering that 32% of people explain that they're concerned by the look of their teeth, these silent signs could help you take better care of those pearly whites. Don't let stress take over your life; listen to your teeth!
Kelsey R. is a writer and an avid world traveler. When she's not writing or listening to 80s music, you can find her exploring different countries, taking selfies with her dog Lady, and in constant search for the perfect brownie recipe.