Many different things can cause tooth pain, from a cavity to an abscess and anything in between. It’s always wise to see your dentist in Sparks if you’re experiencing pain as it’s typically a sign that something is going on inside your mouth that should be checked out. But one thing that’s often overlooked when it comes to tooth pain is your bite or the way top teeth meet the bottom teeth when biting down. The truth is, a bad bite, or malocclusion can also cause unexplained pain.
What’s a Bad Bite?
The way your upper teeth and lower teeth come together when you bite down is an important part of your oral and overall health. After all, proper bite function helps with your ability to chew, swallow, and even breathe. A healthy bite also makes it easier to care for teeth and lowers the risk of enamel erosion and jaw pain. If your upper teeth fall slightly over your lower teeth and the points and grooves in your back molars fit together like a puzzle, chances are you have a good, healthy bite. If they don’t, it’s more likely that you have a bad bite. Bad bites can cause jaw pain, enamel erosion, bad breath, dry mouth, and many other dental problems that will require visits to your dentist in Sparks.
Types of Pain Caused by a Bad Bite
While many bad bites have obvious signs, such as “buck teeth” or a lower jaw that protrudes, others aren’t as obvious until there’s pain involved. Some types of pain that may be a sign of a bite include:
- TMJ Pain – Your TMJ, or temporomandibular joint, helps you open and close your mouth. When your teeth don’t line up, it can cause stress on this joint and result in jaw pain, stiffness, or clicking when opening and closing your mouth.
- Headaches – While headaches are a sign of TMJ trouble, they can also indicate a problem with your bite. When your bite is misaligned, the muscles in your jaw, which connect to your head, can become strained and cause headaches.
- Tooth Pain – Even though tooth pain can be caused by any number of things, if you have a bad bite, you’re at more risk for enamel erosion and excessive wear and teeth, all of which can cause tooth pain.
What Causes a Bad Bite
Bad bites are usually considered a problem reserved for kids or teens, but adults can develop bad bites too. Most bad bites are the result of genetics, but others can be contributed to things such as:
- Pacifier use
- Dental injuries
- Nail biting
- Tooth grinding
- Bone or tooth misalignment
- Pushing the tongue against the teeth
4 Different Types of Bad Bites
Bad bites can present themselves in a variety of ways, but many can be classified into four main types of bad bites. The four different types of bad bites are:
- Underbite – when the lower teeth fall over your top teeth
- Overbite – when the top teeth hang out too far over the bottom teeth
- Crossbite – when a top tooth, or even several top teeth, fall inside of lower teeth
- Open Bite – when the front teeth the molars on top don’t touch those on the bottom
The best way to know for sure if a bad bite is to blame for any pain you have is to see your dentist in Sparks. They’ll talk to you about whether or not a bad bite is causing your pain as well as the best way to alleviate your discomfort.
April is National Stress Awareness Month, and its mission is to raise awareness of the negative health impacts of prolonged stress. While many of the effects of long-term stress are well known, including heart disease, gastrointestinal problems, obesity, and difficulty in managing diabetes, your dentist in Sparks wants to raise awareness of the fact that stress can also negatively impact oral health.
The Body’s Response to Stress
When we feel stressed, our bodies will react in ways we may not even realize. For example, our immune system’s response will become delayed, and our adrenal glands will release the stress hormones of adrenaline and cortisol. The surge in these hormones will cause our nervous system to enter “fight or flight” mode, which is beneficial in times of short-term stress. But when it comes to prolonged stress, it can affect our memories, and learning systems, and increase the risk of depression. Additionally, heightened periods of stress can seriously affect oral health.
- Tooth Decay & Stress
During periods of prolonged stress, we are more susceptible to tooth decay. Why? Stress can cause our bodies to remove the naturally occurring protective minerals and allow dangerous bacteria and acid to linger around in the mouth. This can increase the likelihood of developing a cavity. Additionally, when we are stressed, we tend to resort to things that make us feel better, including alcohol, nicotine, or foods loaded with sugars. But these clutches can inevitably cause more harm than good.
- Gum Disease
Study upon study has shown a correlation between the development of gum disease and experiencing stress. There are several theories behind why this happens. One of which is when we are feeling stressed, we tend to bypass everyday things like brushing and flossing our teeth. Additionally, since increased stress levels can make our immune systems less effective, it means that our bodies can’t effectively fight off bad bacteria in the mouth. This increases the risk of developing gum disease. If not treated by a dentist in Sparks quickly, gum disease can lead to tooth loss, bad breath, and a whole host of other health problems, such as heart disease.
- Jaw Pain
Everyone experiences and reacts to stress differently. Some of the most common side effects of increased stress include clenching or grinding your teeth. These reactions are often done without us even realizing we’re doing it, but they can lead to some problems. For example, when we clench or grind our teeth, whether it’s done while we’re awake or asleep, the jaw can experience unnatural pressure and cause pain. Other signs that you’re clenching or grinding may include:
- Jaw clicking
- Weakened tooth enamel
- Increased tooth sensitivity
Reduce Stress, Protect Teeth
Combating stress is tough because there is no one-size-fits-all solution. However, here are some tips you can try to reduce stress and protect your teeth.
- Eat a Healthy Diet. Eating a well-balanced diet with fruits, veggies, and whole grains will allow your body to function properly and can help keep stress levels low.
- Exercise Often. Exercising, even if it’s a quick walk around the block, will activate the “feel good” chemicals in our bodies that make us feel happier and less stressed.
- Get Enough Sleep. Adults should get anywhere between 7-9 hours of sleep every night. This will help your body relax and reset, lowering stress.
Oral health is the window to overall health, and taking good care of it can help protect your body from some scary, and serious problems. One of the best things you can do to ensure a healthy mouth is to see your dentist in Sparks every six months for regular checkups. Schedule an appointment with us today.