Let’s face it: life can be hard at times. In a world where fast typing, multi-tasking and stubborn patience are skills nearly as important as having a high school diploma and speaking the English language, it’s easy to see how people can get bogged down by stress and anxiety. And people deal with their stress in different ways. For some, that involves taking up hobbies or finding healthy outlets like exercise. Others choose unhealthier options, like cigarettes and alcohol. And still others simply choose to bottle up the stress and leave it on an internal shelf, ignored and [hopefully] forgotten about. But holding in your stress can be very unhealthy for you, especially when it comes to your oral health.
One common result of unacknowledged stress and anxiety is the clenching and grinding of teeth. This phenomenon, also known as bruxism, can happen even in your sleep, without you realizing it. What bruxism can lead to is a problem with the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), which is just in front of your ears, where the lower jaw meets the base of the skull. You’ve probably seen this joint quiver in someone clenching their teeth in anger or effort, and if you do it yourself you can feel it move. If bruxism continues for too long, the TMJ can swell up painfully, which also displaces the bones in the mouth, as well as the gums and teeth. Your mouth will “click” or “pop” whenever you open or close it, and the swelling pressure leads to bad headaches, possible tooth pain and pains in the neck (literally and figuratively).
Tempromandibular joint disorders can be quite serious, and if you develop one you should see Dr. Budd at our practice. Dr. Budd can help with the migraine pain using the special NTI Tension Suppression System, a non-surgical, non-drug device approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
Another common problem stemming from stress is the development of canker sores in the mouth. There is some consensus that fatigue and stress can definitely add to the risk of getting them. And cold sores, commonly seen as a result of herpes simplex and skin irritation, can also develop when you have an emotional upset or breakdown. A few too many late days at the office, ruined plans because of oversights, bad breakups… you can see how they might all stem from an over-hectic lifestyle. If you develop oral issues such as these, schedule a dental appointment, and the team of Dr. Jill Smith and Dr. Alan Budd will take care of you.
So, Don’t Worry (Be Happy)! Here are some quick tips to avoid stress (and preserve your teeth in the process!)
- Feel Slightly Better. When you’re stressed, you can’t just flip a switch and suddenly become happy-go-lucky. It doesn’t work that way. Instead, try to make a minor improvement. If you’re stressed, try to feel bored instead. If you’re frustrated, try to feel optimistic. For her part, Dr. Smith knows the importance of relaxation and mood improvement in dentistry. That’s why Dental Health and Wellness Boston provides calming amenities in each room.
- Establish a Feel-Good Activity. Designate a specific thing as a de-stresser. Try taking a walk, playing with a pet, reading a book, drawing, etc.
- Step Out. Sometimes leaving the room or the area where the stress is brewing can do wonders. Try holding a meeting outside in a park or by a beach to get some fresh ideas and shelve the problems. Or meet at a relaxing place after work to get the job done.
- Say “No”! You don’t have to do everything asked of you! If you’re overwhelmed already, or nearing that point, be assertive and simply say you won’t be able to do anything more, at least for the time being. Bosses prefer a worker who manages to get all his or her work done, not one who juggles more than they can handle and just spills everything over. And loved ones should care more for your needs than their (temporary) wants.
- Take Care of Yourself. Don’t let your physical well-being fall by the wayside, or you’ll collapse… and still have to make up for lost time, in worse health. Maintain healthy habits, eat and sleep right (Dental Health and Wellness Boston offers some great nutrition and supplements), and exercise when you can. It’ll go a long way.
For more on stress and healthy habits:
Are TMJ Cold Sores and Gum Disease the Result of Stress?
ESPN and Vogue Agree: More Sleep Makes All the Difference