Recession Stress Gives Rise to Teeth Grinding

Perpetual teeth grinders are in for a lifetime of pain, say dentists.

ByABC News
July 20, 2009, 10:54 PM

July 21, 2009 — -- Recession stress is apparently taking a big toll on the nation's teeth. Medical experts say the number of people who grind their teeth in their sleep has risen sharply since the downturn began.

There's been a huge rise in teeth grinding, and stress is the top reason that people grind and crunch their teeth, according to Dr. Nancy Rosen, who appeared on "Good Morning America" today. With so many people losing their jobs and their savings in the stock market, people have started grinding and clenching non-stop, she said.

Rosen said almost 50 percent of her dental patients have complained more since the recession hit.

The stress-induced clinching can lead to worn down teeth, as it did for a 25-year-old named Sophie, who is not Rosen's patient.

"I grind my teeth at night because of stress," said Sophie, who asked that her real name not be used to protect her privacy.

Dentists told that they often see signs of bruxism, or teeth grinding, and treat the cracked teeth and jaw pain from people who clench their teeth too much.

Studies have found that between 5 percent and 12 percent of people suffer from facial pain, known as tempormandibular joint and muscle disorder, or TMJD, which is often caused by teeth grinding, according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.

Dr. Harold Menschel, whose Florida-based dental practice, called the TMJ & Facial Pain Institute, specializes in oral face pain, said that he's convinced that rising stress levels have increased the number of cracked teeth he mends.

"People today don't have cavities anymore, and we have gum disease under control," said Menschel. "People instead [are] losing their teeth by wearing them down and cracking their teeth. It's a huge problem."