CAFFEINE AND THE DENTAL PATIENT
Caffeine is a natural and legal psychoactive drug that stimulates your brain and behavior. The effects depend on the personality of the user, on the immediate environment, and even the time of day.
Caffeine comes in many forms but the effects are all the same. When you consume caffeine, the drug begins its effects by initiating uncontrolled neuron firing in your brain. This excess neuron firing triggers your pituitary gland to release adrenaline. Adrenaline is responsible for our “Fight or Flight” response. This response is primarily used to escape immediate dangers and is thus useless while you’re just sitting at your desk. When this adrenal high wears off later, you feel the drop in terms of fatigue, irritability, headache and confusion.
At this point you may reach for another “hit” of caffeine, constantly keeping your body in a “Fight or Flight” mode. By constantly keeping your body on alert you become depleted of adrenaline. This is characterized by fatigue, anxiety, mood swings, sleep disturbance, irritability, decreased tolerance to stress and depression.
Caffeine acts as a temporary stimulant that offers a physical and mental energy boost. Too much, however, can have ever lasting effects on your teeth and jaw.
Caffeine is a muscle contracture drug and can make your muscles tighter. It also causes you to subconsciously clench your jaw, leading to TMJ pain, temporal headaches and masseter muscle soreness. This clenching can also lead to fractures of the teeth, nerve damage, hot and cold sensitivity, gum recession and bone loss around the tooth. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, consult your dentist. He/she can help you manage your symptoms and help educate you on the cause and effects of caffeine and your teeth.
Instead of reaching for a cup of coffee in the morning, you can do your body a big favor by eating a healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner. A healthy diet will keep you energetic all day.