The holiday stress is over, but what may not be over is residual tooth pain.
December and January top the charts for emergency dental visits and tooth problems related to holiday stress.
It’s a new year worth celebrating – but if you’re experiencing pain in your mouth, it’s time to see a dentist.
Here’s why this may happen. The holidays are a wonderful time full of love, family and good food, but it can also be a time of high stress. Clenching jaws or grinding teeth are common habits associated with nervousness or stress. This clenching and grinding is referred to as bruxism and is very damaging to your oral health. Tooth sensitivity is also a side effect of bruxism. When left untreated, this behavior even leads to loose or fractured teeth – and halting teeth grinding at the outset is easier than fixing damaged teeth.
Even if you aren’t experiencing severe jaw or tooth pain, reoccurring headaches can be a result of bruxism. Are you worried that you have tooth damage? Call your dentist and make an appointment. Explain your symptoms thoroughly and don’t be afraid to tell him or her about your holiday stress levels. Your doctor will examine your mouth during your exam and help determine if you have issues with clenching or grinding. If it appears that you have sleep bruxism (clenching and grinding at night), your doctor likely will recommend a night guard to help protect your teeth and jaws from damage.
Other oral issues that individuals suffer from – during and after the holidays – fall into the temporomandibular disorders (TMD) category. These are disorders that affect the joints in the jaw. You may notice pain, discomfort or “clicking” sounds when talking, chewing food or just opening your mouth.
Concerns related to holiday stress and TMD issues are:
• Jaw pain
• Pain in either of the temporomandibular joints
• Earaches or pain
• Pain while eating food
• Facial aches or pain
• Difficulty opening and closing the mouth
• A clicking or grating sensation when opening the mouth
If you experience any of these symptoms, take action and make an appointment with your dentist. These disorders have long-term effects on the wear and sensitivity of your teeth, and may cause headaches as well.
Whether it’s holiday stress or regular stress, keeping your tension levels under control will help both your oral and overall health. Relax, unwind and take some time for yourself. And ask you dentist to help!
Here’s an article from the American Dental Association that expands on dental health and holiday stress.