While the holidays are a special time when friends and family gather together to celebrate and make new memories, they can be a stressful season for many people. Some people fret over getting presents for everyone in their lives and others worry about finishing the year strong at work. While it’s common knowledge that stress can impact a person’s overall health, many are unaware that it can lead to dental damage as well. Here’s how holiday stress can harm your teeth and how you can keep your smile bright and healthy under pressure.
You Won’t Like Finding That You’ve Been Teeth Grinding
Teeth grinding, or bruxism, is a common bad habit that can result from stress. Some people do it voluntarily when agitated during their waking hours while others do it involuntarily in their sleep. Over time, bruxism can wear teeth down, cause cracks and chips, cause headaches, and can make someone’s mouth very painful. If you’re doing it while awake, being aware of the habit can help you break it. If you’re doing it while sleeping, getting a mouthguard to wear at night from your dentist can provide your teeth with the protection they need.
Dry Mouth Is an Unpleasant Problem
Saliva is a crucial part of your oral health because it keeps teeth lubricated and mineralized while diluting and flushing away bacteria and food debris. Unfortunately, people under stress produce less saliva than normal, and it doesn’t help that many caffeinated or alcoholic beverages enjoyed by people during the holidays can have a dehydrating effect. Dry mouth makes it easier to develop tooth decay and gum disease. Luckily, you can combat dry mouth by drinking water throughout the day, chewing sugar-free gum to stimulate saliva production, and/or using mouthwash designed to treat the condition.
After One Canker Sore, You’ll Want No More
Canker sores are non-contagious mouth ulcers in the cheeks or gums that can be caused by accidentally biting your cheek, brushing with excessive pressure, or even because you are stressing out about something. Researchers have found that people with canker sores tend to have higher levels of anxiety and depression than others. There are products for purchase at the grocery store or pharmacy that can help relieve the discomfort that comes with canker sores and help them heal faster.
Don’t let stress get the best of your dental health this holiday season. By knowing what to expect and how to deal with it, you can keep your teeth in good shape for next year.
About the Author
Dr. Richard Thomas earned his Doctor of Dental Surgery from Case Western Reserve University before completing a one-year hospital-based residency program in advanced dental treatments for medically compromised and elderly patients at the Geisinger Medical Center. He proudly serves as a member of the American Dental Association, the Ohio Dental Association, and the Toledo Dental Society. His office in Toledo, OH offers general, restorative, cosmetic, and emergency dentistry. For more information on keeping your teeth healthy during the holidays, contact his office online or dial (419) 539-2168.