Wellness

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Relax, breathe deep and improve your teeth

An increasing number of people are turning to yoga to help manage the stress and anxiety of everyday life. But did you know that yoga can also benefit your oral health?

More than 36 million Americans practice yoga — a growth of more than 50% since 2012.1

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1. Reduces stress

Stress can contribute to poor oral health. It can lead to teeth grinding (bruxism), canker sores and gum disease. Those who are stressed will sometimes grab unhealthy foods, neglect their teeth and gums, put off dental visits, smoke or drink excessively. This can increase the likelihood of gum disease. Yoga can help your mind and body better cope with stress and anxiety, and improve your overall well-being. Lowering your stress levels can also reduce inflammation, which, in turn, may reduce your risk of gum disease.

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2. Improves posture

It’s easy to develop poor posture doing everyday tasks such as driving or sitting at a desk. Slouching can take a surprising toll on your oral health. It pushes your lower jaw forward, which can cause you to develop a misaligned bite and jaw pain. Poor posture can also place strain and tension on your teeth, leading to possible tooth damage. Yoga — which promotes greater awareness of your thoughts, feelings and body — can help get your body back into alignment. It can reduce the strain and tension on your teeth, as well as jaw pain, by promoting better posture.

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3. Stimulates saliva

Practicing yoga helps with the production of saliva — which plays a key role in good oral health. Saliva shields against gum disease and tooth decay by washing away leftover food particles that feed bacteria. When eating something acidic damages your enamel, saliva repairs that enamel with calcium, phosphorus, fluoride and other minerals. Saliva also helps kill germs and prevent bad breath.

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4. Provides relief

Some cancer patients say yoga has provided relief to their bodies and improved their quality of life. While not a medical substitute, yoga is considered a “complementary therapy” because it helps reduce anxiety, fatigue and depression.

Give yoga a try. Beyond helping your overall well-being, you may notice some great improvements to your oral health.

 

1Harvard Medical School