With stress becoming a national epidemic, new research is regularly uncovering more about the impact of this emotional disturbance on your health. You probably already know that feeling worried about work makes it hard to sleep and lose weight, but do you know how it can damage your teeth? Protect your mouth by watching out for these five stress-related problems.
Bad Chewing Habits
Sometimes the stress reaches such a fevered pitch that you need a physical outlet for relief. If you're one of the millions of people who turns to nibbling on your nails or gnawing pen caps, you're putting a lot of wear and tear on those incisors and molars. Damaging chewing habits include:
- Constant gum use, which is hard on the jaw joints
- Biting office supplies, like pens, pencils, paper clips, and even erasers
- Crunching on ice, hard candies, and cough drops
- Clinking and tapping your teeth against the edges of drinking glasses, mugs, and bottles
Training yourself not to chew when you're anxious or worried is tricky but worthwhile. Coating your usual chewing objects with bitter tasting substances helps, but only if you don't go to the supply closet to get a new pen. Try picking up a new habit, like rolling a coin across your knuckles, to replace the habitual behavior.
Tooth Damaging Snacks
Perhaps you don't turn to biting pens to solve your frustrations but instead indulge in a candy bar or two. Stress eating puts a strain on your body in multiple ways, including bathing your teeth in sugars and acids. Even if you think you're snacking healthy by choosing fruit instead of candy or chips, the fruit acids still cause damage.
When your stressed out condition makes you want to reach for a snack, practice a few simple breathing or meditation exercises instead. Taking a moment to count your breaths and focus on a non-religious mantra can offer the same relief without the extra calories and tooth damage.
Getting plenty of rest is one of the best ways to relieve stress, yet worry itself makes it hard to sleep. Drifting off and staying under for eight hours or more can still backfire when you unknowingly grind your teeth together all night long. Whether you clench your jaws during your work day or rub your molars together while asleep, the results of cracked teeth and misaligned jaws both cause lasting pain.
Forgetting to Floss
When your boss is breathing down your neck for overdue reports, it's all too easy to forget to brush and floss as you fall into bed after hours of late night work. Getting distracted for even a few days can have a lasting impact on your overall oral health. Maintain your cleanliness by setting reminders on your smart phone or computer and making no excuses to put off the task when your reminder pops up.
Gum Disease Risks
The other stress-related dental problems all arise from your active behaviors, but stress also lowers your innate ability to fight off infection. This increases your chances for developing gingivitis and the more serious form of periodontal disease. Unless you want to deal with bleeding gum lines and potential abscesses in the future, help your immune system protect your mouth by reducing your stress levels as much as possible.
You may feel like stress is inevitable because of your work and family obligations. However, there are always ways to reduce the amount of stress factors in your life and find healthy methods for relieving the tension you can't prevent. Consider working with a therapist or other doctor to find relief so you can spend less time in the dentist's chair, which might stress you out itself! You can also click for more info on what dental treatments you may benefit from if stress has taken a toll on your oral health.