Stress and Oral Health – An Interview with Dr. Karagiorgos

It’s summertime and the living is easy…except the reality is that many of our patients are dealing with increased stress and anxiety levels from the past year.  This has had an impact on oral health as well, with patients reporting jaw clenching, teeth grinding, as well as cracked teeth.  Fortunately, there are ways FDA can help.  We talked with Dr. Karagiorgos about the impact of stress on the mouth and what treatment options are available for patients.  

Have you noticed any changes in your patient’s oral health during Covid?

Dr. Karagiorgos:  Most definitely. While maybe a few people started flossing and brushing more regularly as they saw themselves more on ZOOM conferences for work or family gatherings, the pandemic has had a negative impact on oral health for most patients.  Tooth decay, plaque and gum disease did not stop during the pandemic. Small cavities turned into bigger cavities, big cavities turned into root canals. Some teeth that needed root canals turned into tooth extractions. 

Also, people have been under a lot of stress. Stress and anxiety are bad for people’s health in general, and teeth and jaws are no exception. As a result of this increase in stress and anxiety, we are seeing a lot more clenching and grinding in patients. Some people are aware of it — they catch themselves clenching or grinding their teeth during the day — but many are clenching while they are sleeping and are not even aware they are doing it.  I often ask patients if they sleep next to someone because that person might know more about their grinding or clenching habits than they themselves do. 

Other questions I ask that may reveal a night grinding or clenching habit include: 

  • Do you wake up with sore teeth? 
  • Do you wake up with a sore jaw?
  • Do you suffer from headaches?
  • Do you suffer from neck muscle spasms? 
What are your recommendations for patients who clench or grind their teeth?

Dr. Karagiorgos:  The most important thing to reduce the ill effects of clenching and grinding is to recognize that it is happening.  We can work with patients to develop a treatment plan, as well as help find resources and support for relaxation.  For example, a warm compress on the jaw is helpful and there are exercises patients can do before bedtime to help relax their jaw.

However, since nighttime clenching and grinding is happening subconsciously, patients might continue the behavior despite their best attempts to curb it. I am a big believer in the benefits of a custom night guard; it’s an insurance policy to protect natural teeth, crowns and fillings, and especially dental implants.  Like the old adage says…  an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. This is definitely true in teeth!  I would much rather replace worn out mouth guards than have to repair damaged teeth!

What does getting a night guard entail?

Dr. Karagiorgos:  It’s a simple procedure:  We take a mold of a patient’s teeth and create a mouth guard specifically suited to the structure of their mouth and teeth to be worn while sleeping.  We design these night guards to direct and dissipate the forces created when clenching and grinding, something that the over-the-counter versions cannot.  Custom night guards also provide a much better fit than options you can find at a store, which means it will be more comfortable and less likely to dislodge while sleeping.  

That said, over-the-counter versions are a great tool to help a patient learn to sleep with a night guard.  We want to know that it is something a patient can and will use before going through the process and dealing with the cost of creating a custom night guard.  Night guards don’t work if they are sitting in a drawer collecting dust!

If a patient has a cracked tooth from grinding or clenching, what options do they have?

Dr. Karagiorgos:  Dental bonding is the most common procedure to help smooth out or repair damaged teeth.  We use a special tooth-like material that adheres quickly to teeth and can be polished and shaped to match your other teeth.  

One thing to note is that a cracked tooth could be obvious or not so obvious. A piece of tooth might chip off and leave the tooth sharp to our tongue, or a cracked tooth might be completely intact but cause sensitivity to hot or cold, to biting on it, or to releasing pressure after biting.  Small chips and cracks in your teeth could become larger over time, so if you have any concerns or are experiencing any of these systems, please give us a call.  Dr. Brunacini and I are happy to talk to you about your concerns.  We are here to help!


Thank you Dr. Karagiorgos!

If you are experiencing stress-related symptoms like a sore jaw or teeth, or have noticed a cracked tooth, please give us a call at 207.781.5900 so we can help!  Our team of compassionate professionals will work with you to find a treatment plan that supports your oral health needs. Let us help you get back to that easy summertime living!


Say Cheese! Cosmetic Dental Procedures that Can Help You Have the Perfect Smile

Here’s something to smile about: you can have the smile of your dreams in as little as two visits to our office!   We all want to feel confident when we look in the mirror, and having a smile that you are proud to show off is a big part of that. If you find yourself self-conscious about your teeth or hiding your smile in social settings, know that we can help!  Many dental issues can be corrected through cosmetic dentistry and that starts with a simple consultation with Dr. Brunacini or Dr. Karagiorgos. To learn more, we highlighted the cosmetic procedures we offer…perhaps there is one that is the right fit for you!

Teeth Whitening

Teeth whitening is a very safe way to achieve the bright smile you’ve always wanted, and can be done in just a few treatments.  We offer both in-office whitening as well as at-home options for our patients. The first step is to have a conversation with Dr. Brunacini or Dr. Karagiorgos.  They will help determine the right option for you, as in-office bleaching can be uncomfortable if you have sensitive teeth and might not be the best option if you having previously restored teeth.  

Porcelain  Veneers

If you have chipped, worn, or stained teeth, porcelain veneers may be a good solution for you.  Porcelain veneers are ultra-thin porcelain shells that are shaped and fixed to your natural teeth. Veneers feel and look just like your other teeth, and they don’t require any special or additional care.   They can be custom fitted in just two short visits and dramatically improve the shape, color, and length of your teeth!

Dental Bonding

Dental bonding is an affordable and painless procedure that can address many different cosmetic flaws or damages.  Small chips and discolorations in your teeth are often unnoticeable to others, but can be glaring when you look in the mirror everyday. We use dental bonding to sculpt individual teeth with a special tooth-like material that looks, acts, and feels like the real thing. Bonding can also be completed very quickly, as the composite resin adheres quickly to your teeth and can then be polished and shaped to match your other teeth.

Dental Implants

If you have missing teeth, there may be a better solution for you than wearing uncomfortable dentures. Many people believe that if they can still eat, tooth loss isn’t an issue; however, missing teeth can lead to a loss of support in the mouth, forcing other healthy teeth to drift.  Many people with a healthy jawbone and soft tissue are suited for implants–your general health is a better indicator than your age. Dental implants provide a great long-term option for replacing lost teeth in a safe and predictable way, as they are designed to last a lifetime. Talk to Dr. Brunacini or Dr. Karagiorgos about your options!   

Metal Free Porcelain Restorations

There are many advantages to replacing your old metal crowns and bridges with porcelain. Porcelain restoration provides you with the translucency and shine of your natural teeth—you’d never be able to tell there was a need for a crown—and the texture of the polished porcelain is very similar to that of enamel.

You can rest assured that by improving the physical characteristics of your crowns, inlays, and bridges, you won’t also be wearing down your opposing teeth. When we fit a porcelain crown, we sculpt and shape the porcelain to fit perfectly with your existing bite, and the porcelain is hard enough to resist wear while soft enough to avoid damaging your natural teeth.


As you can see, there are lots of options for those of you who are looking to improve your smile.  Whether your reason is cosmetic, physical, or a bit of both, Dr. Brunacini and Dr. Karagiorgos are here to discuss all of your dental health goals with you.  Let us help you have a healthy smile that makes you proud! Please call us at 207.781.5900 with any questions or to schedule your consultation.


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