Holiday Stress and Oral Health

November 1, 2020
Avatar for Kelley MingusKelley Mingus

With the holiday season right around the corner, many of us are gearing up for the busiest time of the year. Between family photos, holiday shopping, and socially distanced get-togethers, November and December can be a lot of fun- and a lot of stress, too, especially during the pandemic.

But while the fun part is great, the stress can really take its toll on you, and not just in ways you might think. Stress not only affects your mental health, but it can also affect your physical health, too. One key area of the body that is affected by stress is the mouth. Here’s how stress could be damaging your oral health- and how to fix it.

In Your Joints

Whether you already have been diagnosed with temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ dysfunction) or you are noticing symptoms of the condition, including jaw stiffness, popping and clicking sounds when you open and close your mouth, jaw clenching, or even teeth grinding, you could be manifesting your stress in your jaw. If this sounds familiar, speak to Dr. Mingus about being evaluated for TMJ dysfunction so he can customize a wellness plan that will help alleviate the pain you may be feeling from TMJ dysfunction.

In Your Teeth

If you grind your teeth, bite your nails, crunch ice cubes, or chew on pens or other objects in times of stress, you could be experiencing sensitive or damaged teeth. That’s because our teeth are only meant to chew food- not hard objects. Teeth grinding is especially dangerous because it not only puts pressure on the jaw, that pressure also can cause the teeth to chip, crack, or wear unevenly. If you find yourself grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw, speak to Dr. Mingus about having a custom bite-guard made to help absorb some of the pressure caused by biting down.

In Your Muscles

Tension headaches, neck and backaches, and even poor posture can be caused by stress. This can put pressure on your temporomandibular joint, making TMJ dysfunction symptoms worse. If you experience tension in this area of the body, consider meditation, regular massages, or physical activity like walking or another aerobic activity to get your heart rate up.

Remember, stress this time of year is normal under regular circumstances. Don’t be too hard on yourself for being a little more stressed this year, but don’t let that stress cause injury to your physical and mental health, either.