Saving Your Teeth from Stress

arizona_dentistStress isn’t just for the holidays, but family and big get-togethers can bring on stress. “We all react differently to stressful situations, but often our teeth take the brunt of our stress-related habits,” says Dr. Carol Ford from her Phoenix dentistry office.

Many of the reactions to stress may relieve stress momentarily, but aren’t good for oral health in the long-term.

Smoking or chewing tobacco can be calming, but tobacco of any kind isn’t a healthy solution. The website WebMD warns  “that smoking interferes with the normal function of gum tissue cells. This interference makes smokers more susceptible to infections, such as periodontal disease, and also seems to impair blood flow to the gums–which may affect wound healing.”

Chewing gum is not dangerous, unless the gum you choose is loaded with sugar. Then, of course, your teeth are bathed in sugar and that will lead to cavities. Choose sugarless gum instead. Gum containing xylitol prevents tooth decay, and is the best choice for gum chewers.

Grinding or clenching your teeth can also be a reaction to stress. You may be unaware that you are clenching your teeth. You may wake up with a headache or a sore jaw, and if it happens several times, it’s a good idea to visit your dentist to see if you need a mouth guard to wear as you sleep.

A mouth guard distributes the stress of clenching and grinding. You are less likely to break a tooth or crown with a mouth guard. Of course, the best way to solve the stress reaction is to determine the reason for your stress and find a reasonable way to handle it—physical exercise, confronting the person who is contributing to stress, and/or taking a new perspective on an old situation.

Or, your stress may go away when the holidays are over. Even if it does, it’s smart to see your dentist to make sure your teeth have suffered no damage.

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