The holiday season is here, and that has many of us queuing the DVR for endless streaming of Elf. It has us picking out the perfect gifts, which means countless trips to the mall – or at least many hours online. Throughout the month of December, most Americans become exceedingly busy. When our proverbial plates are already full, what do the extra activities mean for our stress levels? Did you know that your body doesn’t identify good stress any differently than bad stress? And what does stress have to do with your mouth, anyway?
Signs of Stress in your Smile
Stress can have a noticeable impact on your general state of oral health. Specifically, it is the act of teeth grinding or jaw clenching that creates problems; and at the heart of these habits, referred to as bruxism, is stress. When we grind or clench (which we do when we’re asleep), a great deal of force is placed on the jaw. That means the teeth, as well, are subjected to hundreds of pounds of pressure. This can lead to damaged restorations, tooth fractures, and other conditions. That doesn’t sound very cheery!
Reducing Bruxism Risk with Self-Care
Self care and stress management go hand in hand. However, each term has been used so frequently that, rather than follow the advice of experts, most of us have tuned out the message that stress could do us a lot of harm. Because the holidays are reportedly one of the most stress-inducing times of the year, we will take this opportunity to discuss how each person can mitigate triggers that could lead to bruxism, or other stress-related conditions.
Self Care: What does that even mean?
It’s obvious what the term means. The real question is what does self-care look like? If you want to manage stress around the holidays, or any time of year, does that mean you must take up yoga or learn to meditate? Not at all. Self care is about what helps you relax. For one person, it could be a rigorous workout. For someone else, it could be reading a book by the fire, or walking outdoors.
When you take care of yourself and manage stress levels, you’re taking great care of your teeth and jaw. We wish all of our patients a happy, stress-free holiday season!