We’re all familiar with some of the ways stress can affect us: poor sleep, elevated blood pressure, and increased likelihood of diabetes, obesity, or heart disease. But did you know that stress can also affect your dental health?
Stress is one of the leading causes of bruxism, or nighttime teeth grinding, which can wreak havoc on your teeth and jaw. When you grind your teeth at night, it can damage the enamel on your teeth, cause chips and cracks, or even lead to lost teeth. All that tension through the night can also cause headaches, jaw pain, or temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD or TMJ).
Keeping stress in check is crucial for health — including a healthy mouth. Here are four tips for stress management that can help!
In our tech-focused lives, it can feel impossible to take a break from screens, from work, from doing. Meditation may seem a little out there for some, but it’s simply just taking a minute (or several) to breathe intentionally. It allows the mind to refocus, the breath to even out, and the nervous system to rebalance. Regularly taking a few moments to close your eyes — or focus them on something that’s not a screen — and count your breaths in and out can make all the difference in how your body responds to stress.
On the other hand, your body may be craving more movement rather than stillness. While our minds may feel like they’re always on, many of us spend too much time sitting down: at the desk for work, on the couch at home, or in the car during our commutes. Making exercise a regular part of your routine — even just incorporating short walks or some simple stretches and movements throughout the day — can do wonders for stress management and your overall health.
Even if you have a supportive network of family, friends, or coworkers, having someone to talk to about what is causing stress in your life and the obstacles you’re facing can help alleviate stress. In fact, many people find that talking to someone they don’t know as intimately can make it easier to talk about the most stressful aspects of their lives. Therapy can offer a safe space to talk about stressors, and a therapist can also provide techniques (and accountability for using those techniques) to help you with stress management.
If you spend much time around little kids, you may notice that they laugh a lot more than adults. And that’s a shame! Laughter can lower blood pressure, increase endorphins, relax your muscles, and stimulate circulation. It’s one of the best ways to promote stress management and it’s one of the easiest things to do: whether you’re out with a group of friends, watching a funny TV show, reading a clever story, or just stuck in traffic, you can laugh! Make it a point to laugh more during the day and see how it makes you feel.
Stress is a part of all our lives, but it doesn’t have to be a huge detriment to our health. Small changes can make a big difference and incorporating even only one or two of these into your daily routines can encourage stress management and promote overall well-being.
In the meantime, if you think you’re grinding your teeth at night, a dental guard may be a great solution to preventing bruxism and its effects on your dental health. Visit www.sleepright.com to learn more.