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National Stress Awareness Day: How can stress impact your dental health?

National Stress Awareness Day falls on the 3rd November this year, and was initially set up by the International Stress Management Association with the aim of helping to provide information on stress and advice on how best to manage or address it for companies and individuals. The day provides an opportunity to reflect on our own management of stress, and for those who are struggling to cope with it to seek out support.

Statistics from the Mental Health Foundation’s 2018 study indicated that at some point in the last year, 74% of us have felt so stressed that we have felt unable to cope. Given the stressful events of 2020-21, it is likely that that number could be even higher today.

As our bodies’ reaction to pressure or threats, stress can sometimes be beneficial or motivating in small doses, but if it lasts a long time it can also lead to anxiety, depression and other mental or physical health issues.

Stress can be caused by anything that affects your daily life, including your dental health and treatments. Aspects of your dental care that may become sources of stress include:

Fear of going to the dentist, or dental-phobia

A common source of stress for millions is the fear of going to the dentist. This anxiety could be a result of a traumatic past experience, or simply the anticipation of future discomfort. Speaking to your dentist about these concerns could be a way to manage or relieve this type of stress.

Stress associated with the costs of dental treatment

Similarly, people may avoid going to the dentist if they fear that they may need expensive treatment. However, it is actually essential to keep up with regular dental check-ups in order to ensure that any issues are addressed promptly, before developing into more serious problems that could require further treatment.

Stress caused by dental negligence

Although the majority of dentists are careful and perform at an excellent standard, it is still possible for preventable incidents to occur if they fail to take the proper care.

If you are suffering from stress or pain associated with substandard dental treatment, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact The Dental Law Partnership for expert advice on making a claim.

Whilst stress can be caused by our dental maintenance routines, it can also work in the opposite way, whereby stress caused by other aspects of your life has a detrimental impact on your dental health.

According to The Dental Surgery, a person who is stressed may grind their teeth, therefore wearing away enamel and increasing teeth sensitivity. Similarly, the Mental Health Foundation’s aforementioned study also found that 46% of adults reported that they ate unhealthily due to stress, 29% started or increased their alcohol consumption, and 16% started or increased their smoking. Each of these methods of coping with stress can have a detrimental impact on your teeth, putting you at risk of dental issues like gum disease and tooth decay.

National Stress Awareness Day is an opportunity for each of us to reflect on our own management of stress in order to minimise the impact that it can have on our dental health and overall wellbeing. Visit the following online resources for more information and support regarding ways to better understand and manage stress levels:

NHS

Mind (Mental Health Support)

The Dental Surgery

Rethink

 

Sources:

Rethink

Stress Awareness Day

Mental Health Foundation 2018 Study

The Dental Law Partnership