Stress Resulting From Coronavirus Concerns

The impact of stress on our teeth and our overall oral health

nervousHow are you coping with the ‘lockdown’? Perhaps it hasn’t made a huge difference to your lifestyle if you were already working from home, or perhaps you miss the daily office banter with your work colleagues and your friends and are feeling lonely and isolated.

That said, there are likely to be few people who the current situation will not affect in some way or another. Whilst some people might find that staying at home has brought benefits, the reality for others may be very different altogether.

The general daily challenges of staying at home, whether alone or with the children can be hard enough. Combine this with the daily news of deaths and tragedies and it isn’t too surprising that many people are reported to be feeling significantly more stressed than usual.

Stress and your oral health

In today’s Blue Sky Dental blog, we are going to take a look at the impact that stress can have on our teeth and gums and offer some suggestions that our Chelmsford patients might find useful to help reduce it.

Bruxism

One of the most significant impacts that stress can have on our teeth is when we grind them together. Although this can happen when we are really angry and ‘gnash’ our teeth together, it is more likely to occur whilst we sleep, perhaps as a form of outlet for our stress. The fact that it happens when we are asleep makes it much more difficult to control of course and only reducing our general stress levels is likely to ease this problem.

Ongoing bruxism can cause a number of problems for our teeth and the most dramatic of these is when teeth break or shatter under the sheer force. This is perhaps more likely to happen with teeth that are already weakened or compromised and breakages of this nature are relatively rare.

More commonly, tooth grinding will cause enamel to wear down. As the enamel protects the inner part of our teeth, when this has been compromised decay is more likely, as is significant tooth sensitivity when we eat or drink hot or cold foods and drinks.

Over consumption of non tooth friendly foods

Another result of stress is that we are much more likely to snack on sweet foods such as cakes and biscuits. For some people, this is a ‘comfort blanket’ that makes them feel better and helps them to forget about the stressful situation, at least for a little while. There does seem to be a certain irony in that the foods that make us feel good, are often anything but good for our teeth. Indeed, our health in general can suffer as can be seen with problems such as obesity and diabetes. Eating too many high sugar foods not only increases the risk of tooth decay, but gum disease as well. Over time, we might find that our gums feel sore and become inflamed, especially if we haven’t cleaned them well, with correct brushing and the use of dental floss.

Ways to help relieve stress

There are a number of suggestions that are worth considering if you feel that the current situation is very stressful for you. Not all of these will work for everybody, but there should hopefully be something that you find useful.

  • Turn off the news – By all means, keep up to date with the latest advice about how to reduce the virus, but don’t obsess about every report, news conference etc. In fact, try turning off the TV altogether for a while and sit quietly and enjoy the silence.
  • And your laptop/phone – The same as above applies if not more so. Many of us are addicted to our phones and probably spend an awful lot of time on social media. Whilst it does have its positive aspects, there is also a lot of anger and false information out there as well. Try to reduce your use of social media especially.
  • Exercise – There are restrictions in place about how long and what type of exercise we can do. The reality is that exercise does help to relieve stress so do try to take at least a walk every day. If you are able to walk somewhere natural, such as in the woods or a coastline, so much the better. Breath in the clean air and you will feel better for it. But please stick to Government guidelines.
  • Read/write/paint – Most of us enjoy doing one of these or something similar, and it doesn’t matter if you don’t paint very well. It is the act of doing these which will take your mind off your isolation and allow yourself to ‘escape’ from your stress. You might even find a new found love of something new, or renew an old one.
  • Meditation/relaxation exercises – Meditation is not just for gurus and hippies but can be a very useful addition to our day, especially at present. It is very simple to do. Just make sure you are wearing comfortable clothing and sit with your back supported comfortably. Close your eyes and just allow yourself to relax by focusing on your breathing. You might find that thoughts enter your head and  compete for your attention. Allow them to enter and then leave again and re-focus on your breathing. Just a few minutes of doing this can help you to feel more relaxed.

Unfortunately, until further notice, our Chelmsford dental practice remains closed for general face-to-face dental care. We are still available for those who require urgent emergency dental advice though and encourage patients to call us for any dental issues.

You can contact us on our usual number of 01245 211070 where you will be advised on the next steps to take to receive appropriate care. Best wishes from our team and please continue to stay safe.

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