April is National Stress Awareness Month, and that has more to do with your smile than you may realize. This month, we’re shining the spotlight on the link between that high-pressure job or lifestyle and your dental health. Stress can damage teeth in two key ways: by leading to teeth grinding and clenching, or by causing people to develop bad habits (and neglect the good ones, like brushing and flossing). Fortunately, the Drs. Boyd can help protect your smile from the damaging effects of stress.
Stress and Nighttime Teeth Grinding
It’s no surprise that people who are frequently stressed out often have difficulty sleeping. That big meeting, annoying coworker, or your 8 am to 8 pm schedule can leave you tossing and turning — making it even harder to approach the next day with zeal and a positive, stress-free attitude. It’s a bad cycle.
In addition to affecting the quality of your sleep, stress frequently causes adults to grind their teeth or clench their jaws. Bruxism, or nighttime teeth grinding, results in dental damage, jaw pain, and can worsen insomnia. The Drs. Boyd recommend patients who grind their teeth at night invest in a custom-fitted mouthguard.
Professional mouthguards provide a protective layer between the teeth, which prevents wear and tear while also reducing the loud noise of the teeth grinding (which may cause frequent waking and disturb your partner). Nighttime mouthguards also help to reduce facial, head, and ear pain that people who grind their teeth at night often experience.
Stress and Harmful Dental Habits
Stressed-out individuals are more likely to develop harmful dental habits, like biting on their pens, chewing their nails, or eating ice. All three greatly increase your risk for chipping or fracturing a tooth. We know it’s difficult to keep your life in order when you’re under strict deadlines or constantly worried. Two of the most common items neglected are regular tooth brushing and flossing. People who are frequently under stress are, unfortunately, likely to be at a higher risk of suffering from tooth decay or gum disease due to irregular dental hygiene habits. And there’s nothing more stressful than a surprise toothache or abscess.
Stress isn’t just a side effect of being an adult. It’s a dangerous state that can wreak havoc on your mental, physical, and, yes, your oral health. If you constantly feel pushed to your limits, take the opportunity to do something for yourself this April. Managing your stress may be the best thing you ever did.
This month, try the following to naturally reduce your stress levels.
- Take time for yourself with preventive care — your dentist and primary care physician have your best interest at heart
- Engage in vigorous exercise a few times a week
- Try yoga, meditation or massage
- Take five-minute breaks to breathe deeply
- Organize your home or living space
- Take stock of what’s stressing you out and see how you can rearrange your life
Schedule an Appointment Today
Life in NYC can be stressful — but we can protect your smile from the constant pressure. If you grind your teeth at night, have harmful dental habits, or haven’t been keeping up with your good dental hygiene as well as you should, take a few moments to request an appointment today.