January 2014

Keep Calm and Carry On

While the festive season is known for its parties, presents, excess of food and quality time with the family, for many, it can also bring with it much stress and anxiety. The pressure of organising all the festivities and the financial burden that accompanies that quickly give way to what has become known as the 'festive burnout'.

The Money Advice Service's 2013 Christmas spending survey found that 18 million people were worried about how they would pay for the holiday period, with one in three adults expecting to start 2014 in debt. A recent survey by AXA PPP Healthcare also found that 69% of employees' workloads increase in the run-up to the holiday by an average of 30%, contributing to the much stress, exhaustion and illness experienced during this time.¹

Returning to reality after the festive break does little to dissolve the stress many people feel, and the in-famous 'January blues' can often lead to poor diets, less exercise and ­­­­somewhat damaged oral health routines. Particularly for the 2.5 million students in the UK, surveys have found the return to University for the next round of exams to be a huge source of further anxiety and stress. (And it's probably safe to say that their oral health regimes are not as effective as they could be at the best of times!)

Ways to Zap Stress Fast

Feeling stressed? Have a hectic lifestyle? 

Try some of these tricks to improve your well being.

Meditate - you may only need a few minutes a day.

  1. Breathe Deeply - this can help you refocus your thoughts.
  2. Be Present - enjoy the here and now.
  3. Reach Out - talk to friends and family, preferably in person (put away the technology).
  4. Tune Into Your Body - look for areas where you retain stress, relax your shoulders or any area that is tense.
  5. Laugh Out Loud - remember how good you feel after you had a good belly laugh? 
  6. Crank Up The Tunes - and sing out loud or listen to a babbling brook, ocean waves, or other nature sounds that make you feel good.
  7. Move It - any form of movement can help.  Get up and stretch, walk around the office or start yoga by practicing a few poses at a time.

You are worth the effort.  Remember, it takes a lot less energy to have pleasant thoughts, smile, and enjoy life.

To get started download an app that helps you meditate, track physical activity or think positively.

 For more suggestions go to:

Chronic Stress and Periodontal Disease

The relationship between chronic stress and depression, and periodontal disease was the topic of a recent literature review published in Periodontology 2000. The paper summarizes the research and highlights the emerging role of neuroendocrine and neuroimmune mediators in the pathophysiology of inflammatory diseases. 

Stress modifies the host immune response and produces a state of inflammation. Based on this, it is believed that chronic psychological stress and depression reduce responsiveness to infection which leads to periodontal destruction. It has been reported by Genco and colleagues that stress manifested as depression is a significant risk indicator for more severe periodontal infections, while Monteiro da Silva and team found patients with rapidly progressive periodontal disease had significantly higher scores with depression and loneliness measurement tools. One interesting finding is that susceptibility to periodontal breakdown seems to be dependent, in part, on the individual's coping mechanism. 

Stress reduction is not a normal part of dental treatment but an awareness and understanding may provide some insight into the clinical findings, especially post-holiday season when the weather is cold and gloomy. 

To help your patients, recommend effective but affordable adjuncts to their oral health routines. Encouraging your patients to attend regular check-ups will also ensure you can monitor their dental health and make sure any potential problems are identified and treated as early on as possible.