April is Stress Awareness Month

Stress is a common cause of health issues, and your oral health is no exception. In fact, the damage to the teeth, related muscles of the face and temporomandibular joints (TMJ) can go unnoticed until it’s too late. This can result in significant wear on the teeth, muscle pain, fatigue, and headaches as well as problems inside the joints. 

Wear on the teeth can lead to cavities, poor speech and esthetics as well as sensitivity or pain. Muscle pain can lead to recurrent headaches, soreness from mild movement and overall discomfort. TMJ problems can lead to surgery and a lifetime of issues that can be difficult to resolve. 

All of this can sometimes be traced back to simply an increase in stress and a lack of proper stress management. Our current perception when it comes to most health issues is to simply take a pill, and sometimes that can help, but here are a couple of tips to help with stress reduction. 

Stress Reduction Tips from Dr. Benson

  • Identify the trigger(s). Once you know what leads to your stress increase, management becomes easier. Some people do not know what causes their stress. Is it work? Personal life? Lack of sleep? Finding the source of stress is the first step in stress management.
  • Exercise. Something as simple as a short walk can provide immediate relief in stressful situations, but consistent routine exercise will reduce stress. It is important to have an exercise routine you enjoy, which in turn, reduces your stress.
  • Give yourself time to relax. Not only will this improve sleep, but also finding just a little time for yourself is a healthy habit everyone should pick up. Find time in your busy schedule to unwind and read a book, go for a walk, etc.
  • Avoid unhealthy habits. Not only are smoking, excessive drinking and unhealthy eating proven to make stress worse, but they can cause various oral health issues such as tooth decay, bad breath, gum disease, and bone loss (periodontal disease).
  • Be kind to yourself. This sounds like a no brainer, but moms are the worst at being too hard on themselves. They take care of everyone else and forget to take care of themselves. Give yourself a break from time to time, accept the things you cannot change and try to be positive! Go to bed knowing you can try again tomorrow.