Any dentist watching Demi Moore’s appearance on The Tonight Show this week found themselves being personally thanked by the actress as she made a surprising admission. “Thank God for modern dentistry,” Moore exclaimed after showing the audience a photo of herself with a big, black gap where one of her front teeth should be. “All of you who go out there and practice modern dentistry, thank God!”
For an actress, a perfect smile is an important asset and an expectation, which is undoubtedly why Moore’s missing front teeth are expertly concealed by the miracles of modern dentistry that she praises so highly. But while tooth loss is incredibly common — in fact, some estimates suggest that around 178 million people in the US are missing at least one tooth — the reason for Moore’s missing teeth is a surprising one: Stress.
Can Stress Knock Out Your Teeth?
When describing how she lost her two front teeth, Moore explained the culprit: “I’d love to say it was skateboarding or something really kind of cool,” she says, “but I think it’s something important to share because I think it’s literally, probably after heart disease, one of the biggest killers in America, which is stress.”
While it does make for a shocking story, is it true? Can stress really cause your teeth to fall out? Well, yes and no.
Don’t worry, you’re not going to wake up one morning after a stressful week and find teeth littering your pillowcase. The line between stress and tooth loss is actually a little more complicated than that. Instead, stress can hurt your overall oral health in ways that can ultimately lead to tooth loss if not treated.
For example, one common side effect of high stress levels is bruxism, which is why clenching or grinding of teeth. Bruxism can happen consciously during the day, or even unconsciously while you sleep. It can wear down enamel, cause sensitivity and pain, damage fillings or tooth restorations, put undue stress on the fragile temporomandibular joint, and even cause teeth to crack or chip. This kind of damage can expose the teeth to an increased risk of decay, which can lead to tooth loss.
And that’s not all — another possible side effect of stress could be poor oral health habits. For example, stress may cause you to be more likely to snack on sugary foods and drinks, which can encourage tooth decay and gum disease. Or maybe you’re so stressed that you skip brushing and flossing, allowing cavities to take hold in your teeth, eventually leading to tooth loss.
Although we can’t know the details of how Demi Moore’s stress led to her tooth loss, we can certainly see how beautiful and natural her smile looks despite the missing teeth. Since she describes “taking out her teeth” around her children, we could assume that she has partial dentures. Her other options could’ve included more permanent solutions such as dental implants. And of course, if she had spotted the problem earlier, she could’ve benefited from her dentist’s expertise in preventing her stress from causing further damage.