How Stress Can Harm You: From the perspective of your oral and vision health

by MikeMeehan 4/18/2017 1:31 PM

We talk about it, hear about it and complain about it. The phrase “I’m stressed out” has become so overused, we may even dismiss it. Despite the abundant information and worn out terms, the harm stress can cause is worthy of the overemphasis. So we are going to use the occasion of Stress Awareness Month to bring attention to the ways stress can affect your oral and vision health. You may associate stress with lack of sleep and feeling overwhelmed, but two common physical symptoms of stress are associated with your oral health — jaw pain or clenching and teeth grinding. Stress can also affect your vision temporarily. Stress and Oral Health Here are 4 ways stress can affect your mouth: Gum disease or periodontal disease is a bacterial infection caused by inflammation of the gums and surrounding tissue. Warning signs include red and swollen gums, gums that pull away from your teeth and persistent bad breath. When you are under stress, your ability to fight off infections (like gum disease) is affected. Bruxism is the technical term for the condition of grinding your teeth and clenching your jaw which can be caused by stress. Symptoms include headaches, tooth sensitivity and a sore jaw.  Canker sores are small ulcers in the mouth and may be caused by stress. The severity can vary. Also, if you chew on your tongue, cheeks or inside of your mouth, you could be susceptible to canker sores. Temporomandibular disorders, more easily referred to as TMD (or TMJ), are a range of conditions that affect the muscles and joints in your jaw and neck. Symptoms include jaw pain and soreness, clicking of the jaw and discomfort when you move your jaw up and down. Stress may cause or aggravate TMD.  Stress and Vision Health When you think about stress, you might not associate it with your eyes or vision. Here are some symptoms: Tunnel or blurry vision: Lose of peripheral vision and a slight blurriness can occur when your stress levels increase. Eye twitching: That annoying spasm occurring in your eye could be a sign of stress. Eye strain: Recently, we covered digital eye strain from prolonged time in front of a screen, but the stress occurring in your life can also cause eye strain and fatigue. Eye floaters: Spots and specks that float across your field of vision are not necessarily a cause for concern, but you may notice them during times of elevated stress. Solutions with a dental and vision focus While stress reduction methods like yoga, physical activity and breathing exercises have been abundantly endorsed, here are some recommendations specifically for your oral and vision health. From the perspective of your oral health, talk to your dentist if you have jaw pain or if you grind your teeth. You may not be aware that you grind your teeth at night, so a visit to the dentist could discover the problem and will prompt a discussion about possible treatments. During stressful situations, try to relax your face, neck and shoulders to avoid clenching your jaw. Avoid gum and tough foods that cause extra chewing and effort from your jaw. Practicing good oral hygiene and maintaining your regimen, even during the difficult times, will help prevent dental issues. Daily brushing and flossing to remove plaque buildup can help the fight against gum disease like gingivitis and periodontitis. And try not to turn to caffeine or sugar when you are feeling stressed. Both choices are detrimental to your oral health. From the perspective of vision health, if you continue to have some of these stress-related eye problems, be sure to visit your eye doctor. But since most stress-induced eye problems are temporary, find the most effective stress reducing tactics that work for you personally, and give yourself some time for the symptoms to subside and go away. Looking for more ways to alleviate stress, or more information on the ways stress affects your smile or eyes? You can find more articles like this on our website and more information from our oral health library.

Wellness Wednesday Recipe: Healthy Carrot Muffins

by MikeMeehan 4/12/2017 10:54 AM

Searching for a healthy Easter snack? The Easter Bunny and your kids will love these whole-wheat carrot muffins.  Ingredients 1¾ cups white whole wheat flour or regular whole wheat flour 1½ teaspoons baking powder 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon ½ teaspoon baking soda ½ teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon ground ginger ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg 2 cups peeled and grated carrots* (that's potentially a lot of carrots—about 3 large or up to 6 small/medium) ½ cup roughly chopped walnuts ½ cup raisins (I like golden raisins), tossed in 1 teaspoon flour ⅓ cup melted coconut oil or extra-virgin olive oil ½ cup maple syrup 2 eggs, preferably at room temperature 1 cup plain Greek yogurt 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 tablespoon turbinado sugar (also called raw sugar), for sprinkling on top Instructions Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. If necessary, grease all 12 cups on your muffin tin with butter or non-stick cooking spray (my pan is non-stick and doesn’t require any grease). In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, ginger and nutmeg. Blend well with a whisk. In a separate, small bowl, toss the raisins with 1 teaspoon flour so they don't stick together. Add the grated carrots, chopped walnuts and floured raisins to the other ingredients and stir to combine. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the oil and maple syrup and beat together with a whisk. Add the eggs and beat well, then add the yogurt and vanilla and mix well. (If the coconut oil solidifies in contact with cold ingredients, gently warm the mixture in the microwave in 30 second bursts.) Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix with a big spoon, just until combined (a few lumps are ok). Divide the batter evenly between the 12 muffin cups. Sprinkle the tops of the muffins with turbinado sugar. Bake muffins for 13 minutes, or until the muffins are golden on top and a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean. Place the muffin tin on a cooling rack to cool. If you have leftover muffins, store them, covered, at room temperature for two days, or in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Freeze leftover muffins for up to 3 months. Recipe and photo credit: http://cookieandkate.com/2015/healthy-carrot-muffins-recipe/

7 Smile-Friendly Easter Treats for Your Kids

by MikeMeehan 4/11/2017 2:53 PM

Easter holiday memories might be linked to candy, but these alternative Easter goodies could start new traditions. Here are some smile-friendly Easter gifts to fill the kids’ baskets with this year: Art supplies - Playing with chalk on the driveway is a vivid Easter memory for me. Sidewalk chalk usually comes in pastel colors so it matches the shades of Easter. Crayons, playdough, paint and brushes also create an activity for the kids while the adults are entertaining guests. Trail mix to take on their Easter egg hunt, of course! As kids, when our search was not just in the house, but out in the yard, it was extra special. And with the abundance of food and other treats during this holiday, outdoor activity is a good counterbalance. Try these ingredients for a homemade Easter snack: sunflower or pumpkin seeds, a low-sugar cereal, dried fruit, and bunny-shaped crackers. Carrots - Pick out the ones with the greens still attached for an authentic look. And how fun to share the Easter Bunny’s favorite food! Yogurt covered raisins or cranberries - These Easter goodies still have sugar, but they are a good alternative to consider. Seeds for gardening – To celebrate Easter and spring, start a vegetable or flower garden. Temperatures not there, yet? Start an indoor seedling greenhouse to sit on the window sill. Another activity that can last beyond the holiday! Books with Easter or bunnies as the subject, sure, but we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to suggest books with a dentist or oral health theme. There are classics like The Berenstain Bears Visit The Dentist and plenty of others from favorite authors like Dr. Seuss and Mercer Mayer. Other educational gifts like puzzles are great ideas because they will still be around after all the treats have been eaten. A New Toothbrush – Even with these alternative ideas, we recognize candy will be consumed on this holiday. So now is a good time to remind and reinforce good oral health habits with your kids. And to go along with that fun new toothbrush, how about some floss, too? Delta Dental has more tips to keep your child’s mouth healthy during sweet-filled holidays and throughout the year. Maybe after this holiday, your children’s Easter memories will include reading a new book with grandpa, playing hopscotch with the cousins, and starting a garden with neighborhood friends. Happy Easter from Delta Dental!

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