Put your money where your mouth is: Instead of skipping dental appointments, ask your dentist for a cash discount if you don’t have dental insurance.read more
BY: Denise Foley
The holidays have finally gotten to you: You’re in a bad mood, you feel a bout of the blues, and you’re stressing over your endless to-do list. Then, the last thing you were planning on arrives: a throbbing toothache (or jaw ache) that sends you straight to the dentist chair.
You may be prone to blame your bad luck in this scenario, but did you know that anxiety and tooth pain are actually related?
Anxiety affects your mouth in many ways. If you take your daytime problems to bed with you, for example, you could unknowingly be grinding your teeth while you sleep -- a condition known as bruxism that affects up to 20 percent of Americans. This can lead to broken teeth, jaw pain and even development of bony growths in the mouth. Or, if you’re trying to fix your mood with antidepressants, these and other medications may be contributing to mouth dryness, which sets you up for toothaches, headaches, jaw pain and cavities.
Fret not, there are good news: If you suspect these two common problems are affecting you, the fixes are easy -- both for your mouth and your sanity. Try this:
a. Chew more gum. Not only does chewing gum reduce stress (thanks to its soothing rhythmic motion), it also improves memory and protects your teeth by increasing saliva flow. Sugar-free gum that contains xylitol, especially, has been proven to fight plaque even more than regular gum, slowing tooth decay that can be brought on by medications.
b. Consider a mouth guard. This device creates a cushion that minimizes the impact of grinding and clenching, which tend to be unconscious habits, says Davis. Talk to your dentist about getting a custom-made one just for you – made from plastic that’s molded to your bite, mouth guards are inexpensive and easy to pop in for a good night’s sleep.
But your best Rx of all: Relaxation, says T. Bob Davis, a dentist and spokesperson for the Academy of General Dentistry. Tap into your favorite technique, be it a massage, meditation … or a trip to Cancun, suggests Davis. If anything, now is the time to treat yourself to a little holiday TLC.
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