1st April marked the start of Stress Awareness month, aimed at raising public awareness of the causes – and cures – of stress. It’s a campaign that’s needed more than ever this year as, according to the Mental Health Organisation, 74% of adults have experienced feelings of being overwhelmed or unable to cope during the past 12 months.
Given the pandemic and the harsh restrictions we’ve all had to live by – not seeing loved ones, homeschooling, working from home – this figure perhaps isn’t overly surprising. But pandemic aside, stress is becoming an increasing problem. One that is dominating modern-day lives.
The effects of stress on our mental and physical health are well documented but what about the repercussions on our oral health?
Here the team at the Harley Street Smile Clinic take a look at how stress can impact on your teeth.
How stress can take its toll on your teeth
Tension and anxiety can cause all manner of problems – not all of them immediately obvious.
Neglecting your routine
Not sleeping, mind elsewhere…the chances are that remembering to keep up with your normal oral hygiene routine has completely fallen off the radar. Skipping a bedtime brush or forgetting to floss every so often is fine, but if the problem is sustained it leaves bacteria in the mouth to run riot and can cause untold damage.
Increased pressure can lead us to start – or pick back up – bad habits. Smoking is terrible for all aspects of your health, but it also stains teeth and dramatically heightens the risk of gum disease.
Teeth grinding and jaw clenching (also known as bruxism) is frequently linked to stress. It can cause pain, headaches and inflict wear and damage to your teeth. Most people aren’t aware they are doing it and it often occurs at night – disturbing sleep, increasing stress levels and perpetuating the problem.
How often do you turn to a drink to keep you going or to take the edge off? Whether it’s a strong coffee or a glass of wine, the chances are, if you’re suffering from stress, you’re having more than you would normally and this all impacts on your teeth, with dark caffeinated drinks and alcohol guilty of staining.
If you’re tired and exhausted the last thing you want to do is start cooking, right? Instead, you might find you turn to sugary snacks for a quick fix or dine out on takeaways, all of which take their toll on your oral health.
How to tackle the problem
Be kind. A phrase we hear frequently at the moment but usually referring to others. It’s also important to be kind to yourself.
Try to factor time into your day to allow you to relax – even if it’s just 5 mins zoned out with your headphones on or soaking in a bubble bath. These small actions allow you time to take stock, gather your thoughts and regroup.
Exercise is another brilliant stress buster. If it’s not really your thing, try a gentle walk and ask a friend along for company. Chatting is a great way to relieve stress – and you’ll forget all about the fact that you’re actually working out!
It’s also worth taking a look online. There are a growing number of groups and organisations offering advice and guidance on coping with stress, as well as countless free apps to coach you on simple techniques and breathing exercises, that can stop you from feeling overwhelmed and to help you regain control.
It’s a fact – smiling makes you feel better!
Even if you’re plastering on a fake smile, the act of doing so triggers your brain to release tiny molecules called neuropeptides, which help to fight off stress. Smiling also stimulates the release of endorphins – dubbed the ‘feel good chemicals’ of the body. So be sure to fake it while you make it!
Talk to the smile experts
Is your smile one of the things getting you down? Are you unhappy with its appearance and feeling self-conscious?
Don’t suffer in silence – the team at Harley Street Smile Clinic can help.
As an experienced cosmetic dental clinic, we offer a host of procedures designed to enhance and perfect smiles. And as part of our service, we aim to take all the worry and stress out of cosmetic dental treatments by offering a free simulation, so you can be confident any work you have done will achieve the results you’re looking for. We also offer great finance deals. So what are you waiting for? Talk to the team and start your journey to a happy, natural smile today.