How Holiday Stress Impacts Your Smile

Dental Cleanings Arlington HeightsFrom our Arlington Heights, IL dentist office, we would like to wish all of our patients and community members a happy and safe holiday season. Since the holidays are officially among us, it’s important to be aware of how additional stress around this time of year can impact your smile. When all of the festivities are complete, your smile may need some extra care to recover. Be aware of these effects that stress can have on the health of your smile:

Muscle Tension

Two common responses to stress include jaw clenching and teeth grinding. With family gatherings to prepare for, presents to wrap, and Christmas trees to decorate, you are at an increased risk for experiencing jaw clenching or teeth grinding. Many patients do not even realize they’ve been clenching their jaw or grinding their teeth until these habits begin to cause dental concerns. Dental concerns like TMJ disorders, dental damage, and even tooth loss can occur the longer jaw clenching and teeth grinding go untreated. It’s important to practice mindfulness during this time of year. Pay attention to how much tension you are holding in your jawbone and facial muscles. Remind yourself to relax your facial muscles and stretch your jawbone around to relieve tension. If you notice that you develop symptoms like headaches, earaches, or neck pain, contact your dentist for a consultation.

Dietary Choices

There are many holiday meals to look forward to this time of year. However, with the addition of sugary sweets and teeth-staining drinks like hot cocoa or red wine, your dietary choices may have an impact on your dental health. It’s important to practice moderation when eating or drinking anything that could have a negative impact on your smile. If indulging in sweet, sticky, or excessively crunchy foods, make sure to brush and floss 30 minutes after your meal to maintain your best dental hygiene. If you are drinking something that is likely to stain your smile, consider using a straw to prevent the liquid from making direct contact with your dental structions.

Poor Oral Hygiene

During times of high stress, it is common that patients will pay less attention to their oral hygiene. While it may be tempting to save time by skipping brushing or flossing some days, it’s important to remember how essential your at-home oral hygiene routine is to the longterm wellness of your smile. Patients should make time to brush and floss their teeth at least twice a day, even during the holidays. These tasks are essential for preventing common dental concerns like tooth decay and gum disease from occuring. If you have not already, please schedule your final dental cleaning of the year. It’s important to see your dentist before the year ends if you still need to take advantage of your dental insurance benefits. Your biannual cleanings and exams are typically covered by your dental insurance. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Engelberg, your Arlington Heights dentist, or contact our office directly with questions about dental insurance.