Dealing with Stress without Hurting Your Teeth
The toll that the global pandemic has taken on our mental and emotional health is real, and unfortunately, it can have negative effects on our teeth as well. If you’ve developed new bad habits or physical oral reactions that you don’t typically experience, they could be a result of the stress you’ve been under. There are several ways stress and trauma can impact our oral health, and we hope the tips we provide here can be used as a tool to keep you comfortable and care for your dental health.
4 Ways Stress Impacts Dental Health
Be on the lookout for newly developed bad habits or habits you’d thought you’d once kicked but that have resurfaced. Unhealthy patterns are often stress-related. Likewise, our bodies and mouths can respond negatively to stress. Read on for natural oral reactions to stress that you can likely control with a little guidance.
Teeth grinding when you sleep is a common response to stress. How does it harm your oral health? In addition to making your jaw sore and damaging your teeth, severe cases can even break or loosen teeth. If the stress-management techniques at the end of this article do not reduce the stress that is causing your teeth grinding, we would be happy to make you a mouth guard to wear while you sleep.
Teeth grinding and jaw clenching can lead to swelling and stiffness in your temporomandibular joints (TMJ) which are what we use to move our lower jaw. If you’re experiencing clicking, popping, and pain for the first time, you may have developed a TMJ disorder. First, attempt to manage the stress that is causing your clenching and grinding, and eat a soft diet. If that doesn’t ease your discomfort, contact our office.
It’s not uncommon to subconsciously develop the habit of finding comfort in food during times of stress. Chips and other starchy snacks can lead to plaque buildup. And bacteria in your mouth love to use sugary treats, alcohol, and sports drinks to produce acids that attack your enamel. Hard candies and ice put your teeth at risk for dental emergencies, such as chipped or broken teeth. Citric fruits and juices erode enamel and make your teeth more susceptible to decay. Constant exposure to too much of any of these foods can be harmful to your teeth.
If you’ve developed a habit of smoking to cope with the stress of the pandemic, you’re not alone. But it’s important you’re aware of the havoc it can wreak on your oral health in addition to your overall health. The adverse effects smoking can have on your mouth range from oral cancer, periodontal disease, bone loss, and discoloration of your teeth to increased levels of bacteria that hide out in pockets that smoking creates between the teeth and gums. As plaque and bacteria begin to grow, gum disease, bad breath, tooth decay, and other dental issues can result.
Healthier Ways to Deal with Stress
The following suggestions for dealing with dealing with stress in a healthy way do not have to be added to your routine all at once. Take some time alone for yourself and implement what you can. Start today.
- Identify what it is that stresses you. Naming it gives you power over it.
- Make a list of your responsibilities and put them in order of importance.
- Practice meditation and deep breathing.
- Talk with someone you trust.
- Exercise daily.
- Get 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night.
Stress is a natural response to COVID-19, but it is crucial that we find healthy ways to cope. Taking care of yourself is more important than ever right now. So, minimize the amount of time you spend on your phone each day, care for your body, make time to unwind, and stay connected with others. Your mental, physical, and oral health deserve attention, so make self-care a priority today.