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A Short Guide to a Stress-free Holiday Season

Nov 20, 2013
By Felicia Papier

You are now 8 days away from having 35 people arrive at your house for Thanksgiving.  You still have to food shop – organic cranberry sauce for Uncle Fred; paleo stuffing for Aunt Heather; dairy-free whipped cream for Grandma Susan.  You need to make those cute placemat boats and hats you found on Pinterest, there is a whole table to decorate and you have to get to that dentist appointment you made after reading the first installment of this month’s blog series.
Stressed?  Just a bit.

There are many ways that stress can adversely affect your health.  We gave you a pretty decent list a couple weeks ago about dental issues relating to stress.  Dean even explained why bruxism is not as cool as it sounds.  At Dental Insurance Store, we want you to be healthy in every way, not just your teeth!  Here is a short guide to coping with different dental and health issues caused by holiday stress.

1. High stress levels lower your body’s immune system.  This leads to more infections, colds, lower energy levels and oral complications.  The severity of gum disease increases with the stress levels experienced in the previous year.  

How to cope: eat a diet high in fruits, vegetables and low in saturated fat. There are lots of food that we love during the fall that can help keep your mouth in tip top shape like apples, carrots and pie. Ok, just kidding about the last one.  Avoid citrus when possible since they can do more harm than good.  Which leads me to... 

2. Acid.  Stress and anxiety can lead to increased stomach acid resulting in ulcers.  While we have a tendency of drinking gallons of orange juice to help avoid getting sick and countering a worn down immune system, it does a doozie on our stomachs.  And all of it together affects your teeth.  First, stomach acids that occur relative to acid reflux can damage your teeth by eating away at the enamel.  Second, orange juice is full of sugar, which is also not very nice to your teeth.   And lastly, brushing your teeth after drinking OJ is just nasty.  

How to cope: don’t avoid OJ totally – Vitamin C will help you fight off infection.  You may want to consider an herbal tea to calm the acid production in your stomach.  Some teas like oolong and green tea are even good for your oral health.

3. The holidays in general bring higher levels of anxiety which make us a little wacky – forgetfulness and lack of concentration are just two side effects of stress on the brain. One of two things happens with your oral health under high duress levels.  You are either overly concerned about your teeth or you aren’t.

“Tooth fears” is a concept that occurs when you know you don’t have a single thing wrong with your teeth, but suddenly, every ache and pain causes you to obsess over them.  And just the opposite can happen too – people can get so enthralled with the other issues that they completely ignore their oral health resulting in cavities, canker sores and gingivitis. 

How to cope: a good massage would help.  But seriously, getting enough sleep and allowing your brain a full night’s rest is super important.  Keeping up with a regular exercise program will also relieve stress.  And finally, making that dental appointment for a good cleaning is a must – schedule now before you forget!  

4. Work factors cause stress too.  We generally think of the holidays as being a wonderful time in the workplace – company parties, luncheons, gift exchanges – but it’s the end of the year and financial reports are due, people are trying to wrap up projects and it’s just busy, busy!  Studies have been done for years about the relationship between work stress and oral health. Unfortunately, periodontal issues increase as work-related mental demand increases according to those studies. 

How to cope: prepare week-long to-do lists in order to stay organized and on deadline.  This will keep your mind clear and reduce stress. Eat plenty of super foods during the work day.  These include avocados, pomegranates, and coconut oil and will keep your brain sharp and your energy levels up.  And of course, these are all amazing for your oral health!

You are now prepared to welcome all of those people into your home.  Well, your teeth are… so just smile, nod and you will be ok.  

Agent Straight-Talk will be on a dental hiatus next week – we have dental appointments for all of our family members.  However, there is always great information on Facebook and Twitter so follow us there.  

Please check back with us in December for a new series to whet your dental whistle.  From Dean and I, as well as the entire Dental Insurance Store team, happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.  Enjoy your holiday! 

Sources: everyday health, calm clinic,, Raffles medical group
Copyright 2013, Bloom Insurance Agency, LLC ©

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