While the holiday season is a joyous time of year, last-minute shopping, overspending, overscheduling and extended family visits can make it a nail-biting season, too. Although you should take care of your oral health throughout the year, it’s important to realize that holiday angst can affect the health of your smile.
Stress can do a number on your mind, body and mouth. Research shows that anxiety makes it more difficult to fight infection, including gingivitis and gum disease.
If the holidays are adding extra pressures to your life, the stress can make you more susceptible to canker sores, dry mouth, teeth grinding or clenching, dental abscesses and gum inflammation. Too much stress can also lead to bad oral health habits like neglecting to brush twice a day and to floss daily.
Finding ways to stay calm will help your smile stay healthy and bright this season and help you keep your sanity. Here are some tips to keep stress from sinking its teeth into the holidays – and your mouth.
Relax. Set aside time each day to relax, whether it’s five minutes of meditation or a soak in the bathtub. Also try doing gentle neck stretches while brushing your teeth.
Refuel. With parties and special dinners crowding the holidays, there’s plenty of food, drinks and treats to help make you merry. It’s important to balance joyous events with healthy choices. Fill up on fiber-rich foods and satisfy your sweet tooth with fresh fruit or dark chocolate. Also, be sure to drink plenty of water.
Recharge. Get a good night’s sleep and allow your body time to rest and repair from shopping, party-hopping and the time you spend making the season special. Habits like brushing before bed help your body wind down for the day.
The simplest things you can do to maintain your oral health is to brush twice a day, floss daily and visit your dentist regularly. If you notice extra anxiety during the holiday season, try to keep up with your oral health routine. It will serve you well when holiday festivities end.
These reminders aim to help keep your anxiety level low and maintain your oral health – but if stress is bogging you down, take time to talk with your physician.