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Delta Dental warns of the oral health hazards of holiday stress

Teeth grinding and clenching to cope with increased stress can lead to serious oral health issues, Delta Dental serves up tips to help

OAK BROOK, Illinois - December 19, 2016 - Holiday stress can be a pain in the neck...and the teeth, warns Delta Dental. If too much family time or the mad dash for last minute gifts causes you to grind or clench your teeth, be aware that it can cause your teeth to ache, wear down, become loose or even crack. Headaches, pain or soreness of your neck and jaw muscles, and clicking, popping and pain in your jaw joints are also possible side effects.

To help combat the effects of holiday stress, Delta Dental is releasing some tips to help with holiday teeth grinding.

  • Try to reduce stress. Getting regular exercise and spending time with people you enjoy can help. Even if you have to be around people you don't enjoy, try to have a little holiday tolerance and understanding. Remember that others may be stressed as well.
  • Don't discard your healthy habits. For some, the holiday season becomes a time of too much eating, drinking and being merry, only to lead to more pounds on the waistline. Try to balance the desserts and rich foods with healthy diet choices.
  • Stick to a budget. Finances can be a major source of stress. It's a little late now, but also make sure you use your preventive dental benefits before the year end. Getting regular preventive care at your dentist can save you big in the long run.
  • Relax your face and jaw muscles. Clear your mind, take a few slow deep breaths and let those muscles relax. Do this multiple times a day to help create a habit of relaxing instead of tightening these muscles.
  • Tell your dentist if you clench or grind your teeth. Your dentist may suggest a type of mouth guard called a splint, a bite guard or a night guard. There are several different types that work in different ways. Your dentist can design one that will work best for you.

"The holidays can be the most stressful time of year for some," said Bill Kohn, DDS, Delta Dental Plans Association's vice president of dental science and policy. "Taking steps to try and reduce stress and relax your body are very important to not only your mental health, but your oral health as well."

Stress isn't the only thing that can wreak havoc on your teeth during the holidays. Here are some other tips to keep on top of your oral health during the winter season.

  • Watch your sugar intake. There are often sweet temptations everywhere during the holidays. It's hard, but try to stick to one small serving of a favorite drink or snack and be sure to follow up indulgences by drinking water and brushing with a fluoride toothpaste as soon as possible to wash away the sticky sugar residue.
  • Holiday drinks: Though they taste great, limit eggnog, apple cider and hot chocolate as they can pack a sugary wallop-20 grams (5 teaspoons) of sugar for eggnog and more than 65 grams (16 teaspoons) for a fully-loaded cider with caramel sauce and whipped cream.
  • Keep your normal good oral hygiene routine. With the kids home from school and lots of excitement going on, such as traveling, everyone can get off their normal hygiene routine.
  • Give a gift that keeps on giving. Toothbrushes, mint flavored floss and a tube of fluoride toothpaste make great inexpensive stocking stuffers and can help prevent costly dental problems in the new year.