We know that the hazards of the holidays can take a toll on our bodies. But it probably never occurred to you that holiday stress can wreak havoc on your teeth as well.
Last minute shopping and marathon gift-wrapping sessions can cause you to grind or clench your teeth. Headaches, pain or soreness of your neck and jaw muscles, and clicking popping and pain in your TMJ jaw joints are also possible side effects.
To help combat the effects of holiday stress, here are some tips to combat holiday teeth grinding.
- Try to relax. Getting regular exercise and spending time with people you enjoy can help. Even if you have to be around people you don’t enjoy, try to have a little holiday tolerance and understanding. Remember that others may be stressed as well.
- Keep up with healthy habits. For some, the holiday season becomes a time of too much eating, drinking and being merry, only to lead to more pounds on the waistline. Try to balance the desserts and rich foods with healthy diet choices.
- Relax your face and jaw muscles. Clear your mind, take a few slow deep breaths and let those muscles relax. Do this multiple times a day to help create a habit of relaxing instead of tightening these muscles.
- Tell us if you clench or grind your teeth. We can suggest a treatment for bruxism that will alleviate teeth grinding and pain associated with it.
Stress isn’t the only thing that can damage your teeth during the holidays. What you eat and drink, along with how you care for your teeth can also have an impact.
- Watch the sweets. There are often sweet temptations everywhere during the holidays. It’s hard, but try to stick to one small serving of a favorite drink or snack and be sure to follow up indulgences by drinking water and brushing with a fluoride toothpaste as soon as possible to wash away the sticky sugar residue.
- Holiday drinks: Though they taste great, limit eggnog, apple cider and hot chocolate as they can pack a sugary wallop—5 teaspoons of sugar for eggnog and more than 16 teaspoons for a fully-loaded cider!
- Keep your normal good oral hygiene routine. With the kids home from school and lots of excitement going on, such as traveling, everyone can get off their normal hygiene routine.
- Give a gift that keeps on giving. Toothbrushes, mint flavored floss and a tube of fluoride toothpaste make great inexpensive stocking stuffers and can help prevent costly dental problems in the new year.