New Year, New You [Part 2]

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Breaking the metaphorical ball and chain of stress

He thought he had an ear ache and just touching his ear or yawning resulted in significant pain. Naturally, he thought he must have an ear infection, but after visiting his doctor, it was confirmed it wasn’t an ear infection, but rather a problem for his dentist.

Many may be surprised to learn that your dentist can often tell if your stressed; just by looking at your teeth.

It’s not uncommon for someone dealing with stress to clench your jaw and even grind your teeth; both day and night. Many are unaware that they’re doing it until pain becomes present in the jaw or other areas of the face.

The overuse of the temperomandibular joint (TMJ), which connects the lower jaw to the skull right, by the ear, is usually the area in which people notices pain or discomfort.

There are a few different options for preventing teeth grinding and we find the use of occlusal splints help protect the  enamel from further damage, and relieve jaw pain and discomfort.

While mouth guards and other dental appliances can help protect your teeth from further pain, it’s equally important to find ways to help alleviate the stress that causes you to grind your teeth, in the first place.

If you didn’t catch our previous blog, we discussed how stress is something we all have, every now and then. The severity varies as much as the symptoms, but how we learn to cope with what happens around us, can make a big difference on how we allow stress to impact us.

Find Your Center

Woman meditating in her living room

It’s important that we take regular time-outs for ourselves. As adults, I’m sure we can all agree we regret all those naps we gave up as a kid!

We need not only a regular outlet that releases anxiety and tension, but also a plan on what to do when we are feeling overwhelmed and stressed. Many people find exercise and/or yoga a great way to relieve stress; and for good, scientific reason.  

This could be as simple as taking a short walk (we highly recommend taking breaks from work to walk, or to conduct walking meetings).

When you feel the stress taking its toll, and your emotions rising, it may be time to take a time out. Put your situation on hold for a moment and find a way to clear your head. For some, activities such as reading, playing games, or doing something crafty, are therapeutic.

For other situations, a time-out might help you focus on the situation that is causing you stress in the first place and allow you to work through it. Exercise is said to improve brain function and the right kind of music can help control your mood while you think. Even something like cleaning can help people feel better. And who doesn’t like a clean house? You even get the added bonus of having done something productive!  

A New Year, A New Inner You

Learning how to avoid and deal with stress doesn’t happen overnight, but the benefits of finding what helps you is a long-term solution, you’ll be happy to have learned. If you find that you, too, have jaw pain or tend to grind your teeth, call us. We’ll be happy to get you in for an evaluation!

~Dr. Marea White