Usually, the holiday season means parties, shopping and family get-togethers. And all of these can lead to stress. And stress can be detrimental to your health—even the inside your mouth! This year, most stress is associated with worries relative to COVID-19 quarantines and lock downs. To protect your teeth throughout the rest of 2020 and beyond, work to remove stressors from your daily life…whatever their source!
Stress & TMJ
One of the dental problems frequently associated with stress is known as Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMJ or TMD). As we discussed in a recent post, TMD is a complex set of symptoms which relate to jaw pain. While TMD can be caused by mouth trauma, disc displacement, or degenerative joint disease, it can also result from stress and anxiety. Stress triggers grinding and muscular contraction, which causes pain. The result of this pain increases stress levels even more, so a cycle begins. Some people try their best to avoid pain by limiting what they chew or limiting the amount of time they open their jaws to chew or talk. These behaviors can mitigate some of the discomfort associated with TMJ.
Dr. Wong and the expert staff at Blue Ocean Dentistry can examine your teeth and evaluate your symptoms to determine whether you brux. In addition to diagnosis, we can come up with a treatment plan to help alleviate the pain, minimize further damage, and repair affected teeth. Possible treatment options include dental devices such as custom-made splints or orthodonture, to improve alignment of teeth, which may reduce grinding. To read more about bruxism, click here.
Other Dental Stress
- Canker sores can flare up during periods of high stress. These sores can cause discomfort that could become problematic if they dissuade the patient from properly brushing and flossing sensitive areas.
- Periodontal journals point to a relationship between elevated stress levels and gum diseases such as gingivitis and periodontitis.
- Stress can also lead to increased oral bacteria, since stressful situations overtax the immune system.
Tips to reduce holiday-related dental stress:
Reducing stress from the holiday season can improve dental health (not to mention making the holidays more enjoyable!):
- Stay organized.
Record commitments so you can stay on top of parties, appointments and obligations. Due to the pandemic, your event calendar is probably a lot lighter than in years past. But that doesn’t mean you won’t be faced with stress. With Hannukah just begun and Christmas right around the corner, order contact-less food and gifts online.
- Learn to say “no.”
This may be more important than ever, since social distancing can protect you and your loved ones. If you are invited to a gathering, make sure everyone is healthy. Ask how many people will attend. You may even suggest guests take COVID-19 tests before any social occasion, just to be safe. And don’t feel the need to accept invitations to every holiday gathering. Your health is more important than Holiday 2020.
- Don’t push for perfection.
Now, more than ever, remember that the holidays should be joyful and fun, not a time for rigid perfection. Don’t worry if your decorations aren’t up to par with the ones you see on HGTV or if your holiday meal doesn’t look like it appeared on the cover of Food Network Magazine. Despite the distractions this year, make the most of the season. Savor the things that you can still safely enjoy.
- Sleep and stay active.
Good health means eating right, getting substantial exercise during the day and plenty of sleep at night. With many gyms closed, find alternate ways to move. Walk your dog. Or take advantage of one of the many health apps and physical fitness websites available. And resist the urge to load up on sugar. If you won’t be seeing as many family members this year as in years past, scale back on the baking, so you won’t be tempted to scarf everything yourself. Enjoy everything in moderation.
- Don’t forget to take care of your teeth.
Brush two or more times a day, floss to remove sugary holiday sweets, and proactively talk to your dentist if you experience oral pain or redness. And if you have unused 2020 dental insurance funds, make sure you use them before they expire.
Happy Holidays from all of us at Blue Ocean Dentistry!
About Dr. Fred Wong of Blue Ocean Dentistry in Glendora, California
Dr. Fred Wong and the staff at Blue Ocean Dentistry use the latest available dental treatments, equipment, and materials – all of which make a marked difference in our patients’ experiences. We are committed to helping our patients achieve optimal dental health. We creatively combine dental science and artistry — which can literally redesign your smile. Since even a subtle change in your smile will help you to project self-confidence and high self-esteem, we love helping you feel good about yourself. We deliver the finest dental care at the most reasonable cost and accept most dental insurance plans as well as CareCredit. For more about the dental treatment plans we offer or to schedule an appointment, call today (626) 852-6999.