HOW YOUR CHILD’S ORAL HEALTH IS IMPACTED BY STRESS
In small doses, stress can benefit your child by boosting their brainpower, increasing their immunity, and motivating them to succeed. However, chronic stress can lead to mental, emotional, and physical consequences, including poor oral health. Unfortunately, recent studies have found that roughly 50% of parents are unaware when their child is struggling! Therefore, a pediatric dentist is sharing five signs your child may be stressed, how it can negatively impact their oral health, and ways you can help.
5 Signs Your Child May Be Stressed
Between extrinsic factors, like a worldwide pandemic, and intrinsic issues, like elevated expectations, there are a multitude of reasons children today can experience high levels of stress. However, children often internalize their struggle, which can negatively impact their health. So, it is important to be aware of the five common behavior changes associated with stress, according to the American Psychological Association:
- Irritability and mood changes.
- Lying, bullying, or defiance.
- Ditching long-time friendships for a new group of peers.
- Changes in sleeping or eating habits.
- Unhealthy or regressive patterns.
The Correlation Between Stress and Your Child’s Oral Health
Depending on how your child is coping with their stress, there are a number of ways their oral health can be compromised. For example, if a stressful situation has changed their normal routine, then their dental hygiene regimen may be skipped during the critical years when their teeth are forming. Also, emotional eating habits can expose their teeth to unhealthy or sugary food choices that can wreak havoc on the enamel. Lastly, comfort-based habits like thumb-sucking or nail-biting can resurface and negatively impact their oral health.
How You Can Help Your Child’s Stress Levels and Oral Health
If you have noticed changes in your child’s behavior that you believe is a response to stress, then it is important to be vigilant. Since neglecting the issue will only intensify the problem, it is important to instead:
- Foster a healthy sleeping routine and a healthy diet.
- Spend quality time with your child each day.
- Be available to discuss the source of your child’s stress with an open mind.
- Schedule routine visits to their dentist and primary care physician.
- Encourage children to keep a journal or diary.
- Seek help from a mental health professional or school counselor if your child is chronically stressed.
- Brush your teeth with your child to instill healthy habits and lead by example.
From a young age, stress is a part of our daily lives. However, by keeping an open dialogue and intervening early, you can ensure that your child’s mental, physical, and oral health stay in good shape!
About the Author
Dr. Karrie Lee is a board-certified pediatric dentist who is dedicated to making your child’s appointment fun and educational! Over the past 10 years, she has used her kindness, extensive experience, and genuine passion for her job to care for each of her patients like she would her own family. If you would like to speak with Dr. Karrie about improving your child’s oral health or scheduling their bi-yearly appointment.