It’s the most wonderful time of the year, but it can also be the most stressful time for many. Between parties, family gatherings, shopping lists and gift-wrapping marathons, the pressures of the season can take a toll on your body . . . including your oral health. Here’s a list of common stress-related ailments, plus some tips to help you handle and beat the stress.
Clenching and Grinding Teeth
Technically known as bruxism, this condition can be a result of several factors, but the main culprit is stress — 70% of the time in fact, according to the Bruxism Association. Headaches, worn tooth enamel and jaw pain are some signs that you could be grinding and clenching, often without realizing it. To help avoid this stress side-effect, consciously give your jaw muscles a rest several times a day by placing your tongue against the back of your front teeth and taking several deep breaths. A visit to your dentist can also help if you think you have bruxism.
Known to many as TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint Disorder) this pain often occurs when the muscles in the jaw are overused from clenching or grinding teeth (see above). Besides pain, symptoms of TMJ also include jaw clicking and difficulty opening the mouth. Relaxing the jaw muscles and resting the joint can be effective treatments. If symptoms persist, see your dentist or orthodontist for a diagnosis and plan of care.
These small but painful ulcers always seem to pop up at the wrong time . . . and often during times of stress. While most canker sores disappear in under 10 days, it seems like a lifetime when dealing with the pain. Avoiding stress, injuries to your mouth and acidic foods can help keep them at bay. But, if they do pop up, over-the-counter pain relievers and topical medications can help ease the sting.
A Healthy Mouth and Healthy Body
Now that we’ve got the mouth down, let’s talk about the rest of your body. Try these tips to help combat stress so you can enjoy your holidays.
- Eat a balanced diet. Try to carve out time each day to relax and enjoy a nutritious and balanced meal. If you’re on the run, pack healthy options for the road.
- Stay hydrated. Stress = dehydration AND dehydration = stress.
- Sleep and rest. This should be the first thing on your holiday list. Be sure to get a good night’s sleep and block some time to take breaks throughout the day.
- Exercise. This activity will pump you up with endorphins — a natural stress reliever. Take a walk or hit the gym. Whatever the activity, it will help you reduce your stress and provide other health benefits.
- Oral Health is Overall Health. Stressful times can cause people to neglect their oral health, which can affect overall health. Be sure to brush, floss and schedule regular dental appointments to keep your teeth, gums and jaw in tip-top shape.
Associated Orthodontists has offices in Joliet, Plainfield, Morris, Frankfort and Bourbonnais, and offers complimentary orthodontic consultations and observation appointments at all locations. Our friendly Treatment Coordinators will verify your insurance and create a customized interest-free payment plan. To schedule your complimentary consultation, or to find the Associated Orthodontist location near you, please visit greatbraces.com.