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December 5, 2023

Tooth Tension: 3 Ways Holiday Stress Impacts Your Smile

Filed under: Uncategorized — dr_pate @ 4:26 pm
Woman in white sweater and Santa hat holding presents and clenching her teeth

Though the holiday season can be an incredibly joyful time full of laughter with family and friends, it can also be incredibly taxing. Whether you’re worried about finding the perfect gifts or concerned about being properly prepared for visitors, there tends to be a lot of added pressure at the end of the year. You probably are aware of how tension influences your body, but did you know it can impact your oral health, too? Even with the right preventative care, you’re still susceptible to developing a dental dilemma. Keep reading to learn 3 ways stress influences your smile and how your dentist can help.

Condition #1: Canker Sores

Many people develop canker sores this time of year in response to an increased workload or additional daily responsibilities. They’re small mouth ulcers triggered by heightened anxiety, biting the inside of your cheek, or even brushing too forcefully. They’re non-contagious and tend to clear up on their own, but if yours are causing discomfort when you eat or drink, contact your dentist. They may have some information or input that can provide relief, or they may want you to come in so they can assess your condition.

Condition #2: Teeth Grinding

Even if you’re not aware of it, if you’re feeling a lot of added pressure in your life then you could be taking it out on your pearly whites. Bruxism, or teeth grinding, is a habit many people develop when there’s more to be concerned about than usual. Those with this condition clench their teeth together subconsciously during the day and even at night while they’re sleeping.

The reason it’s problematic is that all the added force begins to wear down your teeth unevenly which increases the risk of injury. It can also push them out of their positions and lead to misalignment. If you notice your jaw is more stiff than usual, call your dentist. They can examine your mouth for any potential problems to provide possible solutions. If you need your grin straightened, for example, they can discuss the possibility of clear aligners like ClearCorrect.

Condition #3: Stiff Jaw

If you’ve recently woken up in the morning only to find that your jaw is stiff, then you might have a temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder. This refers to an issue with the joint that connects your jawbone to your skull which can grow inflamed with overuse due to bruxism. It can become so intense that you experience other symptoms like headaches, a clicking sound when you open or close your mouth, or even the inability to open it altogether. Your dentist can offer treatments such as a customized mouthguard, called a splint, to wear at night to protect your teeth from damage.

There’s no reason to suffer throughout the season. If you’re exhibiting signs of these dental dilemmas, call your dentist so they can give you some well-deserved relief!

About the Author

Dr. Peter Pate has been practicing dentistry since he graduated from the University of Tennessee School of Dentistry in 1982. He has over 4 decades of experience providing a wide array of dental services to patients of all ages. He’s well-versed in several fields including general, cosmetic, and restorative dentistry, as well as in different TMJ therapies. If your smile is feeling worn down by the stress of the season, you’re welcome to request an appointment on the website or by calling (404) 266-9424.