April is National Stress Awareness Month, an observation started in 1992 to draw attention to the negative health impacts of chronic stress. These include increased risk for hypertension, heart attack and stroke, obesity, and diabetes.
Stress can cause sleep disturbances, excessive muscle tension, and headaches. It can impact cognitive functioning, result in memory loss, and produce strong feelings of anxiety.
It can also destroy teeth.
What Stress is Doing to Your Jaw
Two of the biggest concerns surrounding unchecked stress are bruxism (tooth grinding) and TMJ. Both of these can result in:
- Chronic pain or discomfort
- Jaw tenderness and swelling
- Aggressive tooth wear
- Tooth loss
A risk factor for TMJ, bruxism is especially worrisome as it often occurs while sleeping. Symptoms of TMJ such as clicking noises in the jaw, chronic head and facial pain, and tinnitus, may indicate that bruxism has become a problem. These symptoms should be brought to our attention as soon as they occur to help ensure prompt and proper treatment.
Taking time to slow down and approaching situations calmly is very beneficial for stress reduction. Try to carve out some time every day where you can simply relax. This can help to create lasting calm and instill habits that allow for the rapid release of stress when needed.
In addition, proven methods of stress reduction include:
- Mindfulness practices such as seated or walking meditation
- Breathing exercises
- Calming exercises such as walking
- Cardiovascular exercises
- Healthy eating
- Maintaining relationships
There is a significant body of evidence suggesting that intentional living, thoughtful eating, and commitment to being active play a large role in stress reduction. So too does having a healthy family/social/work balance and a supportive community, such as a church, yoga studio, book club, or parenting group. Stress Awareness Month is the perfect time to commit to incorporating more of these things into your life.
Staying active, healthy, and involved can all help to reduce stress, but they cannot undo the damage that has already been done to the smile through stress responses like tooth grinding. That’s where we come in.
Offering both occlusal guards to prevent damage and a full range of restorative services to address it, we are here to help. Give us a call at 602-978-1790 to schedule a consultation and learn more. Located in Glendale, our family dentistry practice welcomes patients from all surrounding areas of Arizona.