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  • Writer's pictureSoong-Ryong Jung (David) , DDS, MS, PhD

Can Stress Lead to Dental Implants?

Can Stress Lead to Dental Implants?

Stress is something that teens and adults talk about quite often. Whether it has to do with deadlines, politics, or sudden emergencies, stress can certainly take a toll on a person's health in multiple ways. However, the general public is mostly aware of stress having adverse effects on your heart, muscles, or immune system. The idea of stress or mental illness taking a toll on one's dental health is another thing entirely. We have heard of people grinding their teeth in reaction to stress. But does it really go so far to cause a need for dentures? If they do, how far does it go before you see signs of damage from the grinding? And at what point of the progression does it require intervention? So, let's talk about tooth grinding, stress, and when implants come in the picture.

Initial Effects of Bruxism

Tooth grinding, as we understand, can wear down the teeth, put pressure on the muscle tissues and surrounding jaw. According to Medical News Today, " Bruxism can lead to jaw pain, stiffness, sore gums, sensitive/broken teeth, clicking and popping of jaw joints, and a dull headache." Earaches are also a possibility because the temporomandibular joint and the ear canal are connected to the jaw. So the severity of the pain, as well as the location can vary from person to person.

But what causes such a thing in the first place? After all, not many people exactly decide to choose their own reaction to stress. Unless if they are specifically looking for it, most reactions to stress are subconscious at best. Heck, it even happens while people are asleep. So, when and why do people pick up tooth grinding if they do? And when does this happen most often?

What Causes Tooth Grinding?

While the cause of tooth-grinding is unclear, what we do know is that it happens during times of stress, anger, anxiety, or concentration. This has further implications when you take the latest scientific studies into account on the matter, "Bruxing episodes during sleep are preceded by an increase of brain activity and heart rate. This suggests that central nervous system factors may play an important role in the initiation of bruxing."

Another interesting thing to note is that this type of behavior is more common with children under 17. According to the National Sleep Foundation, "Sleep-Related Bruxism (SB) is more prevalent in children, with 14% to 20% of children under age 11 experiencing the condition (according to parental reports). SB prevalence declines with age, from 13% of those aged 18 to 29, to 3% of adults aged 60 and older (mean rate of 8%)."

There are other factors that can have a side effect of tooth grinding such as, antidepressants, neurological conditions, sleep apnea, snoring, and tobacco/ alcohol consumption. But if stress is outright stated to be one of many causes, can it be enough of a driving factor to create permanent damage?

Recent Connections Between Stress and Tooth Grinding

As of 2010, there has been a study involving the association between neurotic behavior and tooth grinding. The findings were hardly definitive since the data relied on self-reporting, more than anything else. However, there is still a consistent pattern. People who were more socially outgoing were much less likely to report or show signs of bruxism altogether. The study in their conclusion stated, " Despite these limitations, we offer the first evidence that bruxism is associated with not just acute symptoms of anxiety and depression, but also with stable traits that measure susceptibility to negative emotions in a non-clinical community population."

So, does this sort of grinding in adults cause this drastic results? Does stress alone cause the need for dental implants? It absolutely does. And there are people who can tell you that they are going through it to your face.

A woman outright stated that she suffers so much stress from politics that she needed implants. She interviewed with the Wall Street Journal, who reported, "Carol Sabransky, a Chicago resident and executive at a management consulting firm, says her habit of grinding her teeth has kicked into high gear over the past few years. The habit started years ago after she gave birth to her children. She lost one tooth from it in 1992. In the past year, she’s lost two more teeth from grinding too much and had to get implants, which cost $7,000 each. She now wears a nightguard, an appliance put in her mouth at night to help prevent grinding during sleep."


If you suffer from tooth grinding that you are already doing permanent damage to your teeth. If you are in need of a consultation or just want to put a stop to it, and you live in the Plano, Tx area, visit

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