Stress. It’s often silent, it’s often sinister and it’s often sustained. December, for many, exacerbates what you might already be feeling in terms of every day stress – making the symptoms that much more pronounced. In another recent blog we also talked about mental health issues. The reality is, this time of year can be a challenge for many, both in terms of their physical health and their mental health. The pressure to make the holidays special can be unrelenting and if there are financial, job related or health concerns, the stress level can go off the scale. In fact, according to one recent article on the www.oda.ca website, more than 22% of Canadians describe most days as “quite a bit, or extremely stressful.” (1) That’s a lot of people, under a lot of stress. What does all of this have to do with teeth? Actually – quite a bit.
Stress shows in your teeth in a number of ways. The most obvious culprit is bruxism or nocturnal grinding which we’ve actually discussed in a past blog. Bruxism is grinding your teeth at night, an action you might not even be aware of. This can wear down your teeth and enamel, making them more susceptible to cavities, tooth breakage and more. It might also lead to TMD, or temporo mandibular joint disorder. Chronic and persistent headaches as a result will only add to the overall feeling of being unwell and therefore, might also increase your stress. It becomes a vicious cycle.
Stress causes other dental problems too. Often we fall into bed exhausted at night and forget even the basic maintenance of brushing our teeth. We might have to cancel dental appointments because of our busy schedule and a small problem becomes a bigger one as a result. Since stress also affects our immune system, making us more susceptible to infection, we often see more gum disease, canker sores and bleeding gums in our stressed out patients. Poor dietary habits and a possible increase in poor lifestyle decisions like smoking, drinking alcohol or greater sugar consumption will also lead to problems. In short, stress can be as hard on our teeth as it is on the rest of our body.
The real lesson here is to try and relax. Easier said than done of course but the Brinkley Dental team encourages you to reflect on this time of year as one that is more about family than gift-giving and more about caring for yourself and others than it is about the race to shop, cook and create a “perfect” holiday celebration. In that spirit, we take this time to thank you for supporting our Salvation Army food drive and we urge you to take time to pause and reflect this holiday season. In the meantime, if your teeth have you feeling down or the scheduled time off school presents a great opportunity for you to visit the Dentist, we encourage your family to call our family. Book an appointment and don’t let stress get the better of your teeth! As always, we’ll end with our friendly reminder: ”don’t forget to be a BFF with your mouth and Brush that SMILE!”