By 2010, the American Psychological Association labeled chronic stress as a public health crisis. Unfortunately, Americans have only reported higher levels of stress over the following decade. This can negatively affect your sleeping patterns, eating habits and even your dental health. In this post, your dentist in Dublin explains what effects stress has on your teeth and gives you tips on how to relax.
The Daily Grind
A common side effect of stress is bruxism — also know as teeth grinding. This habit can occur without you even noticing that you’re doing it. Bruxism causes jaw pain, headaches and may result in fissures in your teeth. When left untreated, brownish stress fractures will appear on your molars and your teeth can eventually crack.
The best way to limit the effects of teeth grinding is to wear a mouthguard at night. While it won’t stop you from grinding, it will protect your teeth. Warm water can help you relax your jaw muscles, so take a bath before bed or apply a warm compress as you settle in for the night. Alcohol and caffeine can worsen bruxism, so reduce your consumption of these substances in the evening. Chewing on nails, pencils or other hard non-food items will help your jaw muscles get used to clenching, making you more likely to grind your teeth.
Tips for Relaxing
Addressing your stress will help you stop grinding your teeth. Try these strategies to reduce your nerves:
- Exercise: It may seem contradictory, but physical stress can relieve mental stress. Whether you hit the track hard or just go for a leisurely stroll, try to work out regularly.
- Listen to music: Slow-paced instrumental music can lower your blood pressure, heart rate and stress hormones. However, simply listening to your favorite songs has been proven to help you relax.
- Take deep breaths: Controlled breathing exercises will help slow your heart rate and dispel stress hormones.
- Spend time with your pet: Interacting with pets may release oxytocin, a brain chemical that promotes a positive mood. Pets can also relieve stress by keeping you active and providing companionship.
High stress levels can harm your entire body, including your mouth. Talk to your dentist if you notice tiny cracks on your teeth or suffer from chronic jaw pain.
About the Author
Dr. Eric Buck is dedicated to helping his patients achieve beautiful smiles by providing excellent dental care. He is a member of the American Dental Association, Ohio Dental Association and Columbus Dental Society. If you have further questions about bruxism, he can be reached through his website or at 614-792-1800.