There’s no doubt that the coronavirus crisis has caused stress and anxiety for many of us. Kids are also vulnerable to stress at this time. They are experiencing non-traditional school days, are unable to see their friends, and have had their extracurricular activities cancelled or moved online. Teens may also be anxious about graduation ceremonies and end-of-year trips being postponed. So how does kids’ mental health affect their oral health? We’ll look at some ways stress can impact a child’s healthy smile and offer suggestions for coping.
Colgate.com tells us that stress can increase the amount of bacteria in the mouth that causes cavities. A stressed child might also lose interest in brushing and flossing habits. In times of stress, encourage your child to maintain their hygiene routine and limit sugary snacks. Foods like raw or crunchy fruits and vegetables, eggs, milk, cheese, yogurt, nuts, and seeds are better for teeth and overall health.
Clenching and Grinding
Bruxism, or clenching and grinding teeth, is a common reaction to stress, tension, and anxiety in children. It can happen during the day or while sleeping, and most of the time we are not aware we are doing it. Signs to watch for include grinding noises when your child is sleeping, complaining of a sore jaw or face, or pain with chewing.
Kids who are stressed sometimes revert to behaviors like thumb sucking. It’s important to keep in mind that regressive behaviors are a common way that children respond to stress.
Canker sores might also develop as a result of stress. KidsHealth.org describes canker sores as “small sores that happen inside the cheeks and lips, at the base of the gums, and on or under the tongue.” They can sometimes be very painful.
Helping Your Child Cope
Talking with your child about their feelings is an important way to help ease their stress. Baptist Health offers several tips on talking with your child about the COVID-19 crisis, including common questions your child may have. ChildMind.org also provides ways to support children during time at home, such as keeping routines in place and exercising.
We Are Open
We are now open for all dental services. If your child missed an appointment because of COVID-19 restrictions, please contact us to reschedule to help prevent cavities, infections, or other potential complications. Keeping your teeth and gums healthy can go a long way in supporting your overall health.