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Calm Down! It's Just the Holidays

By Jill Hamilton on December 5, 2013 in Dental Health


Are you Zen-like or crazy during the holidays? Your mouth and teeth may give you a clue.

You may find yourself grinding or clenching your teeth during times of stress. Also known as bruxism, grinding and clenching can cause chipped or cracked teeth. The American Academy of General Dentistry says bruxism is most common in people who are “aggressive, competitive and hurried.”

If you're not sure you're clenching or grinding, ask your significant other, who likely will hear you at night. You also may suffer from headaches, sore jaw muscles, tooth sensitivity or ear ringing if you clench or grind. See your dentist, who may fit you for a dental night guard.

You also could be more at risk for gum disease, which studies show increases with stress. People who are highly stressed may take less time for proper oral care, which includes brushing and flossing daily.

Canker sores, or mouth ulcers, are also caused by stress. You can get canker sores by being too aggressive in your teeth cleaning – jabbing your gums with your brush, or biting the insides of your cheeks. Studies have shown that students have a higher number of canker sores, yet they tend to go away during breaks or after graduation, according to a report published in General Dentistry, a journal of the Academy of General Dentistry.

Fight your holiday stress by taking care of yourself. Get enough sleep, exercise and eat right. Take a warm bath or meditate. Here are some tips on how to eat healthy during the holidays and throughout the year.

The holidays are about giving, and the joys of spending time with family and friends. Relax! Your teeth and gums will appreciate it.