We live in a fast-paced world, and that can make for very stressful living. Anxiety and worry are so common, in fact, that many people have come to simply accept them as a natural consequence of living and breathing. This type of thinking can be very damaging to one’s mental, emotional, and physical health — including his or her teeth. While you may not be giving much thought to your dental health when you’re pacing the floor and stressing out, you could be wreaking havoc on your mouth. Here’s a look at some of the ways that people inflict damage on their teeth when they’re struggling with stress:
Eating Junk Food
When you’re feeling stressed out, what’s the first thing you do? If you’re like many other people, you have a tendency to reach for comfort via food — especially sweets! After all, “stressed” is “desserts” spelled backwards! Unfortunately, all that sugar and junk food can quickly lead to the buildup of plaque and bacteria, as well as the development of cavities. You’re better off finding other ways to manage your stress than eating, such as taking a long walk. Your teeth — and your waistline — will thank you for it!
Smoking and/or Drinking
Other common vices for tense people are tobacco smoke and alcohol. Both of these are known for staining and discoloring teeth, wearing down tooth enamel, and generally causing harm to oral health. Mixing alcoholic beverages with sugary sodas or fruit juices can also increase the likelihood of cavity formations. As an alternative, you might consider sipping on a stress-relieving hot tea or trying aromatherapy.
Some folks have a tendency to grind their teeth against one another when they’re feeling especially tense. This habit, known as bruxism, creates a number of problems. For one thing, you might start irritating those around you with the noise. More troubling, though, is the type of damage that can be done to your teeth as you grind them down to stumps. This could lead to the need for dental implants, bridges, crowns, etc. Taking on an exercise program can help release stress during the day, while a mouth guard may be needed to protect your teeth during the night.
If you’re feeling perturbed, you might start to clench your jaw. After a while, this can create pain and soreness that may even lead to a headache. Beyond the physical pain, you could also be negatively impacting your oral health. Those who frequently clench their jaws are putting themselves at risk for gingival recession. During gingival recession, the gums are actually pulled away from the teeth. Jaw clenching often goes hand-in-hand with teeth grinding, but it may be a standalone issue. Try practicing deep breathing exercises or meditation when you feel yourself starting to clamp down on your jaw.
The more stressed out you are, the more likely you are to overlook details and forget to take care of yourself in the proper way. When you have a lot on your mind, it’s easy to accidentally skip out on flossing or fail to remember to brush your teeth before rushing out the door in the morning. Instead of stressing about all of the things that have to be done throughout the day, strive to stay in the moment and handle life one thing at a time. This will help you stay on track with your daily regimen so that you can handle whatever the universe throws at you.
Don’t let stress detract from your oral health — and definitely don’t let it stand in the way of your routine dental check-ups. Give Dr. Bruce McArthur a call to schedule yours today!