Though restrictions and regulations related to the COVID-19 pandemic have lightened, many people around the world feel lingering high stress levels linked to the global public health crisis. Stress can lead to major health problems, including for your smile.
If your oral health deteriorates, your teeth and gums might not appear at their best either. Certain behaviors you may have picked up if you feel stressed might worsen this effect. Read on to learn about three stress-related habits that you should limit or avoid to protect the look and feel of your smile.
3 Behaviors Stemming from Stress That Hurt Your Smile
Drinking Beverages That Stain Teeth
Stress can wreak havoc on your sleep schedule. If you do not sleep enough or sleep poorly, you may wake up feeling groggy. Many people will turn to coffee or tea for a caffeine boost to get them through a busy day in these cases.
But tea and coffee get their dark color from tannins. These substances will transfer and absorb into tooth enamel when you consume them, leaving stains on the surface of your teeth over time. You cannot get rid of them with your usual oral hygiene regimen.
You can make efforts to reduce this discoloration, such as adding milk to your beverage or sipping throw a straw. But this will not erase the chances entirely. Dentists recommend limiting or avoiding these dark-colored drinks to preserve your tooth color. If you do notice yellowing or staining in your smile, ask your dentist about tooth whitening options.
Ignoring a Worsening Teeth Grinding Habit
Increased stress can bring tension to your muscles and joints, including your jaw. This means stress could initiate or exacerbate a habit of grinding or clenching your teeth. The grating of the top arch of teeth against the bottom one can cause breakage in the teeth.
Chips and cracks in your smile may appear unsightly, though your dentist can amend them with cosmetic or restorative procedures. You can preserve the structure and appearance of your teeth by asking your dentist for advice to stop this habit.
In many cases, patients grind their teeth in their sleep. Dentists can give these patients a custom-made mouthguard to wear overnight to cushion teeth against grinding that may occur during sleep.
Skipping Routine Dental Check-Ups
If you have a stressful schedule, it may feel tempting to give yourself a break and skip routine appointments with your dentist. However, avoiding the dentist’s office means that you miss crucial preventative dental care.
During these appointments, your dentist cleans plaque and tartar build-up from your smile that you miss during your regular oral hygiene routine. They also examine your teeth and gums for early signs of dental conditions, like cavities or gum disease.
They can treat the issues before they advance and give you irreversible damage. You can prevent dental emergencies and keep your smile looking and feeling its best when you visit your dentist as recommended. Usually, you should schedule these cleanings and exams twice a year.