The last thing you need to hear mid-pandemic is “be less anxious”. However, there’s good reason to lessen your anxiety. Among other health issues, did you know that being too anxious may cause oral health problems?
Look, we’re sure at this point you are dead tired of hearing the doom and gloom of articles telling you ‘look how bad your health can get when you’re cooped up in your house all day with only your dog or 3 small children to talk to.” Yes, you know and we know. At the same time though, we genuinely care about you and your family’s health and we want to help you make sure you’re taking care of yourself. So, let’s make receiving health advice a bit more fun. Instead of taking it from us, let’s take some good advice from none other than Ms. Betty White.
First though, let’s get those bare facts out of the way. Here are some of the health issues anxiety can cause:
Bruxism (teeth grinding)
TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint Disorder)
Burning Mouth Syndrome
Oral lichen planus (white lacy patches or red patches or sores inside mouth)
Gum Inflammation and Disease
Let’s talk about the why for a moment here. Why does anxiety cause these issues? There are four types of causes:
When we’re stressed, our normal routine can be disrupted, which is especially exacerbated by the unorthodox situation that we’re currently in. An irregular dental maintenance routine can lead to all kinds of oral issues, as we explored in a recent article.
Other issues result because anxiety causes a weaker immune system. Anxiety causes cortisol levels to rise. Cortisol is that “fight-or-flight” response hormone and, if it’s only momentary, it can actually boost our immune system. However, chronic stress prolongs the cortisol release in our body, hampering white blood cell production and ironically leading to higher levels of inflammation. Therefore, anxiety can lead to conditions such as gum inflammation and disease, canker sores, and oral lichen planus.
When you’re stressed, you can tense your body. You may grind your teeth or clench your jaw, which can lead to bruxism and TMJ. These conditions wear on your teeth and can be associated with substantial pain.
4) External Chemical
Some of the medications used to treat anxiety cause dry mouth. Dry mouth means less saliva, which can lead to plaque build-up and, subsequently, cavities. Dry mouth can also lead to burning mouth syndrome.
Now that we’ve got all of that out of the way, and we’ve temporarily contributed to upping your anxiety levels, let’s hear from Betty White on some ways to COPE with anxiety at home so you can avoid some of anxiety’s nasty little tagalongs.
Take it away, Betty!
"Get at least eight hours of beauty sleep, nine if you’re ugly.”
Yes, beauty sleep is ESSENTIAL. A solid night’s sleep, including as few interruptions as possible, is important to your health. Sleep deprivation and interrupted sleep have been linked with elevated cortisol levels.
"You can’t become a professional mourner. It doesn’t help you or others….Replay the good times. Be grateful for the years you had.
Some of you have had losses from this epidemic and some have simply lost their freedom, but mentally replaying and reliving your anxieties does no good to anyone. Give yourself permission to relax.
"I just laugh. Have I got them fooled.”
Fool your anxiety with laughter. Laughter eases your stress response. A long-term positive attitude (with lots of laughter added in for good measure) has been linked to neuropeptide release which can actually improve your immune system.
“Once someone has had the good fortune to share a true love affair with a Golden Retriever, one’s life and one’s outlook is never quite the same.”
Pets have been shown to lower cortisol and blood pressure. That’s reason enough for us! Lucky for you, you can brush right along with your pets with our RADIUS products for pets.
“I’m a health nut. My favorite food is hot dogs with French fries. And my exercise: I have a two-story house and a very bad memory, so I’m up and down those stairs.”
Ok so maaaaybe don’t take Betty’s advice on hot dogs and French fries, but finding creative ways to keep up your exercise regimen, even in lockdown, is a must to boost your immune system and reduce stress.
“People say, ‘But Betty, Facebook is a great way to connect with old friends.’ Well, at my age, if I want to connect with old friends I need a Ouija board.”
It’s important to connect with people at this time, but there are swaths of studies that link anxiety with social media, particularly in adolescents and, we would imagine, particularly when so many people are talking about the global pandemic that makes us all anxious. Maybe ease up on the social media and give a phone call to a friend instead.
“Everybody needs a passion. That’s what keeps life interesting. If you live without passion, you can go through life without leaving any footprints.”
Using creative endeavors as an outlet not only lets you safely explore and express negative emotions, but to cognitively redirect them into something positive.
“You just keep plugging away. You don’t give up.”
It’s so easy to let this situation derail your normal routine, but it is vital to keep some semblance of a normal routine and not give into the malaise that worry can bring. Not only will routine ensure that your oral care is on point, but it has been used to alleviate stress and anxiety, and even insomnia for those of you who are struggling to abide by Betty’s first quote! If you need any help keeping your routine on track, RADIUS is here to encourage you by offering a 10% discount when you subscribe to regular oral care product replacements.
With a little help from Betty, and a little help from the RADIUS family, we believe you can take away some of the stress we’re all feeling right now. Change your approach and your health, both oral and otherwise, will be the better for it. As Betty White said,