There’s a good chance you may occasionally feel overwhelmed, anxious, or stressed because of the current COVID-19 pandemic and its influence on society. Sometimes, feeling anxious can help us stay alert and careful of our surroundings, but it’s most well-known for its negative effects. It’s common knowledge that stress can cause headaches, an upset stomach, and insomnia, but it has a profound impact on your oral health as well. Your Fresno family dentist explains six harmful, stress-related habits that may be damaging your smile while in quarantine and how to break them.
1.) Over-Aggressive Toothbrushing
Do you use forceful, sawing motions to brush your teeth? You may be doing more harm than good. Over-aggressive brushing scratches away at your enamel and irritates your gums, which could lead to sensitive, discolored teeth that are more prone to cavities.
Always use a soft bristled toothbrush and gently massage your teeth and gums with small, circular strokes.
2.) Nightly Teeth Grinding
Stress can sometimes cause you to grind your teeth at night, which is a condition known as bruxism. Since it typically occurs during sleep, you may only notice it because of the jaw soreness and headaches it can cause. The extra pressure every night can weaken and even break your teeth.
Try eating something crunchy, placing a warm compress on your jaw, or practicing meditation to promote relaxation. After quarantine has ended, talk to your dentist about getting a custom night guard.
3.) Harmful Chewing Habits
Many of us chew on hard objects when we’re anxious or bored. However, items like pen caps, ice, and fingernails all wear down your teeth and could easily fracture them. They could also introduce new bacteria into your mouth, which could lead to infection.
To satiate your need to chew, try eating a crunchy apple or a piece of sugarless gum instead.
4.) Snacking Throughout the Day
It’s important not to mindlessly snack or stress eat throughout your day during quarantine. Not only is this a good idea for your waistline, but it will lower your risk of tooth decay. The last thing you need while social distancing is a cavity.
Keep snacks away and limit your eating to mealtimes. If you must snack, choose healthy options like cheese, lean meats, almonds, or raw fruits and vegetables.
5.) Smoking Tobacco
Tobacco products have a wide variety of negative effects throughout your body. In your mouth, these issues range from increasing your risk of oral cancer, gum disease, and oral infections to causing tooth discoloration, decay, and loss.
It is by no means easy, but quitting is the best way to stay healthy. This is especially important during the pandemic since it also weakens your immune system.
6.) Skipping Your Dental Routine
Your daily schedule probably looks much different than it did earlier this year, but don’t forget to continue to brush your teeth twice a day. Since dental offices will only be accepting emergencies until the stay at home orders are lifted, it’s up to you to keep your smile plaque-free and strong until you can see your dentist for a routine dental checkup.
It’s completely natural to feel stressed during the COVID-19 pandemic, but don’t let that damage your smile! Keep your oral health safe by breaking these bad habits and look forward to leaving quarantine with a happy, healthy smile!
About the Author
Dr. Byron Reintjes of Fresno, CA has always prided himself in offering comfortable, quality dental care for the whole family. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he will continue to prioritize you and your family’s best interests by doing his part to flatten the curve and temporarily closing his office. He encourages all his patients to practice social distancing, regular handwashing, and great at-home oral hygiene to keep themselves and others healthy. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact him via his website or at (559) 438-6684.