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Holiday Stress and Your Teeth Habits

Holiday Stress on Your Teeth

Do the holidays make your teeth grind or clench?

While this time of year is all about being merry and bringing good cheer, it can also be very stressful. For a lot of people, stress shows up dentally in the form of teeth grinding and clenching.

Want to keep your teeth healthy for the long run? It’s time to learn some new habits. Read on to learn how stress affects your teeth and steps you can take to reduce discomfort than may come with it.

The Stress and Jaw Pain Connection

Are you experiencing jaw pain? If you’re stressed, you’re more likely to put excessive pressure on your teeth. Actions like grinding and clenching that are not associated with chewing can lead to a number of dental issues, including tooth pain when you are eating.

When you grind your teeth, you essentially gnash them together or slide one row of teeth over the other. It’s like if you took two stones and wore them on each other a few thousand time a day. Eventually, the stones will wear down. Your teeth are no different – over time, frequent grinding can cause your teeth to form wear spots.

When you clench your teeth, you bite them together tightly. Imagine if you took a walnut and placed it in a nutcracker. As you apply pressure, at some point, the walnut will break. Same goes with your teeth – all that clenching will eventually cause something to happen, like a cracked tooth.

A side effect of grinding and clenching your teeth is soreness and throbbing pain in your jaw and other areas of your mouth. Overuse of your muscles in this way can lead to headaches, jaw joint pain and other symptoms.

Stress Relief for Your Jaw

It’s pretty common for people to grind or clench their teeth every so often. But if you’re doing either of these frequently, a little stress relief will go a long way to keeping your teeth healthy (and your jaw happy).

Here are some stress relief techniques that are especially helpful for a sore mouth:

  • Be mindful of your jaw during the day. If you’re feeling tense and it’s causing you to grind or clench your teeth, take a moment to consciously relax your face.
  • Do exercises to relax your jaw muscles. Jaw stretches and yawn-sighs are two great exercises that are like yoga for your mouth.
  • Get more (and better) sleep. More zzz’s mean less pain, because it increases your pain threshold. Plus, it’s easier to handle stress when you’re well rested.
  • Drink less caffeine. Sipping too many caffeinated beverages can make you jumpy and tense.  (And snoozing more will make you less dependent on caffeine.)
  • Get a massage. Not only does it feel good, but it can reduce your anxiety and relieve the tension that has built up over time.
  • Work up a sweat. Exercise is one of the best stress relievers. Any kind of movement will do the trick, from a brisk nature walk to a 30-minute run.
  • Take a vacation. Dr.Charoenkul can prescribe a tropical vacation that could be covered by your dental insurance. Just kidding, but wouldn’t that be fantastic?

Over to You

Have you suffered from jaw pain? What steps did you take to reduce your teeth grinding and clenching? Share your tips with us in the comments.

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