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Could stress cause dental health problems?
Updated: 10/16/2008 6:00:27 PM

Could stress cause dental health problems? The current economic situation in the U.S. may be causing many people to worry - and possibly to damage their dental health.

A report in the Wall Street Journal describes how stress can lead people to clench and grind their teeth in their sleep, a habit known as bruxism.

In turn, bruxism can lead to more serious problems such as temporomandibular jaw disorder (TMJ), a condition which may result in chronic facial pain. Around 10 percent of people who grind their teeth end up suffering from TMJ, the article states.

Dentist Anthony Chillura told the news provider that "TMJ and Wall Street go hand in hand," explaining that tooth-grinding is a common way for humans to physically express their anxieties.

Noshir Mehta, director of the Craniofacial Pain Center at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, said that women are more likely to have TMJ problems than men. Around 300 pounds of pressure can be exerted by a jaw that is clenched, he added.

In addition to stress, bruxism may be caused by sleep problems, a misaligned bite or teeth that are missing or crooked, according to the American Dental Association.
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