A startling revelation from a Hollywood actor highlights one of the most prevalent causes of oral health problems.

Demi Moore appeared on “The Tonight Show” in June to chat with host Jimmy Fallon about her new film, “Rough Night.”

But before they discussed her role, Fallon showed the audience a recent photo of Moore smiling with one of her front teeth missing. The 54-year-old then told Fallon that this was the second of her two front teeth she had lost.

Showing how Harmful Stress Can Be

“I’d love to say it was skateboarding or something really kind of cool,” Moore said before confessing to have been so overcome with stress that she “sheared off” her front teeth.

“They happened a year apart but the fact remains that I sheared off both my front teeth,” she added. “Thank God for modern dentistry. Without it, I wouldn’t be smiling on the red carpet.”

Thank God for modern dentistry. Without it, I wouldn’t be smiling on the red carpet.

Speaking of how the second tooth actually came out, Moore told Fallon that she “literally knocked it out. It was almost like it fell out and my warranty was up.”

In addition to comic relief, Moore explained that the photo’s purpose was to show the world just how harmful stress can be.

“I think it’s something that’s important to share, because I think it’s literally, probably after heart disease, one of the biggest killers in America,” she said of stress.

Other Factors Involved

dental exam with mirror

Stress and anxiety can make people neglect their overall health.

Bruxism, or teeth grinding, can in fact be a product of stress. An abnormal bite, missing teeth, crooked teeth or sleep disorders like sleep apnea can also be causes. People who drink a lot of caffeine are also more likely to grind their teeth. Alcohol has been shown to intensify teeth grinding as well.

Research shows that stress is a cause of up to 70% of bruxism cases. That may be because teeth grinding is a common outcome of the body’s natural fight-or-flight response.

Dr. Gary Glassman, a dentist who specializes in endodontics, told the New York Post that stress was likely not the only cause for Moore’s two lost teeth.

“I would suspect that there were definitely other factors involved,” he said. “[Bruxism] can wreak havoc and when you’re under stress and have a lot of anxiety. That’s the number one reason why people grind their teeth.”

Another reason stress and anxiety pose a danger to oral health is their ability to make people neglect their overall health in general. Someone who is in a bad mood, Dr. Glassman explained, is more likely to forget to brush his or teeth, floss, and show up for dental checkups.

My Dentist, My Therapist

While the precise timeline of Moore’s tooth loss was not disclosed, teeth grinding does have the potential to fracture teeth, loosen teeth, or wear them down to stumps.

Most people who grind their teeth do so at night. In fact, many aren’t even aware they are grinding their teeth until someone who sleeps in the same room hears the grinding noise.


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Your dentist can identify bruxism by observing jaw tenderness or a healthy tooth that seems smaller or duller than normal. Dentists typically fit patients with the condition for mouth guards, which protect the teeth from wearing down as they sleep.

If your dentist finds that stress is a key factor, she might suggest you try an exercise routine or mental health counseling. Any outlet for stress – whether yoga, reading, or playing music – can help decrease the odds of bruxism developing.

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A major reason dentists strongly recommend making appointments every 6 months is because many symptoms of oral health problems are hard to spot on your own. It’s not always as simple as, say, ongoing toothaches or teeth shifting out of place. There are other symptoms that do not involve severe pain or a blatant change in appearance that can be seen in the mirror.

Making these symptoms even easier to ignore is the fact that they seem normal, especially for people of a certain age. But as your dentist will tell you, even the slightest problem can be a sign of a potentially serious condition.

Here are the 4 most commonly overlooked oral health problems:

Bad Breath

Some people are naturally plagued with particularly bad breath, which becomes increasingly noticeable as you get older, like body odor. Maybe you have a taste for pungent cuisine or tend to drink alcohol a little more than you should, giving your bad breath an excuse. But bad breath can be an early sign of conditions like liver disease, kidney disease, advanced gum disease, halitosis, or diabetes. It’s difficult, however, to know that your breath is worse than the average person of your age and lifestyle if you don’t brush and floss at least twice a day. If your breath remains just as bad despite this routine, your dentist might recommend a tongue scraper. Only after brushing, flossing and tongue scraping have failed might you know that you are at risk for one of the aforementioned conditions.

Dry Mouth

Like bad breath, this is something that is often mistaken as a natural part of getting older or a certain lifestyle. You might have become used to having a dry mouth because you don’t drink that much water throughout the day or are taking a medication that may cause it. This is why the best way to truly ascertain whether or not your mouth is producing too little saliva is to ask your dentist or go for a check-up. Your dentist will quickly be able to tell if you should increase your consumption of liquids or try a saliva substitute. A lack of saliva prevents bacteria from being washed away, which could lead to cavities or gum disease. Dry mouth is also a common sign of diabetes, scleroderma or rheumatoid arthritis.

Sensitivity To Hot And Cold Food Or Beverages

So you’re eating ice cream and it stings a little. No big deal, right? But then you start to feel pain while eating hot food as well. Increased sensitivity to either type of food or beverage is a sign of cavities or bruxism (teeth grinding), both of which are fairly easy to alleviate. The combination of a night guard and regular exercise will trim your teeth grinding habit, since it is usually triggered by stress. But if the pain from hot or cold foods or liquids is almost too painful to bear, it could be a symptom of enamel decay. The nerves at the center of tooth become decayed and therefore more sensitive, making it very painful to eat. So even if you think it’s just a cavity, call your dentist in the event that you develop sensitivity to hot and cold foods.

Snoring

Everybody snores, right? And even if you do, how are you supposed to know unless someone else is sleeping in the same room? Besides, everyone else seems just as tired as I am during the day. Much like the three previous symptoms, snoring is only considered completely harmless if it doesn’t reach a level of extremity. Excessive snoring could be an indication of sleep apnea, which causes the airway to close as you sleep deeply. Your dentist could have a mandibular advancement device made for you, allowing your airway to stay open so the snoring stops.

Think You Have One Of These Symptoms?

If you are affected by one of these problems but aren’t sure about the severity, you’ll get all the answers you need with just a single trip to the dentist. In addition to identifying oral health problems, your dentist can tell if you are at risk of more serious conditions simply by examining your mouth. It’s important to remember that just because you are experiencing these problems doesn’t mean you are inevitably going to face their worst potential outcomes. Chances are, if you bring them to your dentist’s attention as early as possible, you won’t have to worry about facing any of their consequences again!

The observations your dentist makes while examining your teeth aren’t just limited to oral hygiene. Certain oral health problems can actually be early signs of increasingly dire conditions that effect your entire body, even conditions you didn’t know you had.

Good oral health is an indicator of good overall health, significantly decreasing your risk for a wide variety of diseases and disorders, ranging from highly-preventable to life-threatening. The following conditions are just a few that your dentist can detect simply by looking inside your mouth:

 

Excessive Stress

It is extremely common for people to experience high levels of stress, therefore it’s difficult to determine when that level becomes unsafe. One way to tell that stress is on the verge of impacting your overall health is bruxism, the medical term for teeth grinding. Bruxism is more frequently observed in patients who have trouble sleeping due to stress, anxiety, or sleep disorders like sleep apnea.

Dentists can detect bruxism when they see a healthy tooth that is smaller and more dull than it should be. “The surfaces of the teeth become flat and the teeth get worn down,” Charles Rankin, DDS and professor at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, told the Huffington Post.

Your dentist might suggest a night guard to prevent bruxism in addition to exercise or even psychological counseling. Stress management is reportedly the most effective method for eliminating the habit for good.

 

Acid Reflux

Much like severe stress, acid reflux is so widespread that many sufferers don’t even know they have it. Your dentist, however, might confirm your suspicions of the disorder after noticing erosion of tooth enamel and dentine, which is the soft layer beneath the enamel. Acid reflux causes gastric acid, or stomach bile, to move up your esophagus and erode enamel, particularly in the upper back molars.

An excessive amount of saliva could clue your dentist in to acid reflux as well. This symptom involves the same nerves and reflexes as vomiting, since the body is trying to flush out something that is irritating your esophagus.

 

Excessive Drinking

Your dentist will be one of the first people to notice you are drinking too much. A number of observations could lead to this conclusion, but the most common is the decline of previously good oral hygiene habits. Alcohol inhibits the production of saliva, causing the mouth to dry out. Without saliva, oral bacteria does not get washed away and can therefore result in myriad conditions and oral problems, beginning with cavities.

When a patient who used to possess good oral health suddenly begins to develop high levels of plaque or gum disease, the early stages of alcoholism might be the culprit. Both of these symptoms evolve at a faster pace than usual in patients who increase their alcohol consumption.

 

Diabetes

A string of oral health problems, such as gum disease, bleeding gums, enamel erosion, or loose teeth, is an indicator of diabetes. “Among people that are unaware of whether they have diabetes or not, poor gum status has been shown to be associated with diabetes,” Panos Papapanou, DDS and professor of dental medicine at Columbia University told the Huffington Post. “This is a pretty critical situation in which a dentist can help to identify undiagnosed diabetes.”

Diabetics are reportedly three times more likely to experience the most severe type of gum disease. Bacterial infections can also worsen other diabetic symptoms and increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. These outcomes can be prevented through regular dental visits, since cleanings stop bacteria from getting under the gums.

 

Wouldn’t You Rather Not Deal With These Problems At All?

It’s very important to tell your dentist about any oral problems you are having, even those that seem relatively negligible. You’d be surprised to learn that the dentist can bestow more advice than just brushing or flossing.

Should your dentist have reason to suspect the presence of one of the aforementioned conditions, it should be taken as a warning that your overall health is at risk unless you seek further treatment. For those who don’t want to develop the conditions in the first place, you can begin by visiting the dentists every six months, a major step towards living a longer and healthier life.