De-stress and Protect Your Oral Health

During these times of change and uncertainty, it’s only natural to feel stressed out. After all, we’ve all been thrust into staying at home and figuring out our new, temporary norm. Your dentist in Reno understands. We’re in this together, and we’d like to help by talking about how stress can affect your oral health while also providing you a few tips on how you can lower your stress during stressful times.

How Our Bodies React to Stress
Stress affects different people in different ways, and what happens to one person may not happen to another. Knowing that, let’s take a look at some of the ways our oral health tends to respond to stress.

  • Teeth Clenching & Grinding – One of the most common correlations between stress and oral health is our body’s often subconscious response to clench and grind our teeth. Most of the time, we may not even know we’re doing these things until we start to experience the side effects. The pressure of repeated teeth-on-teeth clenching can be too much for our teeth and may lead to some serious concerns including chipped, cracked, broken, or worn down teeth. But that’s not all. Constant clenching or grinding can put unnatural stress on our jaw joint and jaw muscles, which can cause jaw pain and the development of TMJ disorder. TMJ disorder and jaw pain can often be treated successfully, so if you recognize any clicking or popping in the jaw joint, jaw pain, or occasional jaw locking call your dentist in Reno.*
  • Gum Disease – Gum disease is a serious oral health problem that can contribute to other whole-body health concerns such as the increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, respiratory disease, and some cancers. Usually, gum disease is a result of inadequate oral hygiene, not seeing your dentist regularly, or tobacco use. However, recent studies have also shown a connection between increased stress and the occurrence of gum disease. Gum disease can be treated if caught early, so if you notice bleeding gums, bad breath that doesn’t go away, or swollen, painful gums, see your dentist.

De-Stress to Protect
Your dentist in Reno wants to encourage you to try different things to help you de-stress, for your overall health, mental health, and yes, your oral health. Some things you can try include:

  • Sleeping Well. Getting enough sleep is important to help lower stress and keep your overall body functioning well. Having trouble sleeping? Avoid blue light at least an hour before bed, listen to calming music or relaxing sounds, and keep a regular sleep schedule (yes, even on weekends).
  • Exercising Daily. Hop on the treadmill or stationary bike, go for a walk, do some yoga, but whatever you do, do some sort of exercise daily. Regular exercise naturally lowers stress by giving your body and brain a surge of endorphins, which make you feel happy and more relaxed.
  • Meditating. Believe it or not, simply focusing on your breath and practicing some deep breathing techniques can lower your heart rate and blood pressure and help you feel more relaxed. Look for a free app on your phone or videos online to help guide you through breathing exercises or full meditation sessions.

It’s more important now than ever before to work on decreasing stress levels. We hope some of the tips above help. As we’ve mentioned before, stress is different for everyone, and that also includes stress management. Try to find the method that works best for you.

*At the time of publishing, the ADA recommends that all preventive dental appointments and non-emergency consultations be postponed. Please check with your local regulations.

Dental Emergencies vs. Non-Emergencies

As of March 18, 2020, the American Dental Association has recommended a nationwide postponement of all elective dental procedures and encouraged dentists to provide emergency services only. But how do you determine the difference between a dental emergency and a non-emergency? The ADA is helping out there, too and released important information and guidance to help both you and your dentist in Reno during these unprecedented times. 

What Are Dental Emergencies?

According to the ADA, dental emergencies are “potentially life-threatening and require immediate treatment to stop ongoing tissue bleeding [or to] alleviate severe pain or infection.” The guide released to dentists back in March goes into even more detail to give specific examples of potential dental emergencies. Let’s take a look. 

  • Uncontrolled bleeding
  • Cellulitis or soft tissue infection with swelling that can affect breathing 
  • Trauma to facial bones that may reduce someone’s ability to breathe

Urgent Dental Care

There is also a subset of the ADA’s guidelines to emergency dental needs called urgent dental care. These problems may still require dental care quickly and include: 

  • Severe dental pain caused by pulpal inflammation
  • Third-molar pain
  • Tooth fractures with pain or resulting in soft tissue trauma
  • Post-op complications such as dry socket 
  • Abscess or localized bacterial infection with swelling
  • Dental trauma that results in a lost tooth 
  • Lost or broken temporary restoration or if a restoration is irritating the gum tissue

This is not an all-inclusive list of all dental emergencies that may require immediate treatment. Other situations may include defective restorations that cause pain, extensive cavities or decay that cause pain, needed adjustments to dental appliances when they aren’t functioning properly, or the replacement of temporary fillings where the patient is in pain. 

Non-Emergencies

At this time, dental offices are discouraged from having preventive, routine appointments or seeing patients with non-urgent needs such as: 

  • Initial consultation for cosmetic procedures
  • Restorative dentistry such as fillings if there is no pain
  • Extractions of teeth that are not causing pain
  • Dental cleanings, x-rays, and routine checkups. 

Please note, while your dentist in Reno is here to help you in any way possible, there are some limitations as to what we can and cannot do at this time. The best thing to do if you think you’re experiencing a dental emergency is to call your dentist. 

*As information about COVID-19 changes regularly both at the state level and on a national scale, please check your local area for the most recent updates regarding dental care.