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Stress Management for Kids Has More Perks than You May Think

Family Dentistry Methuen MA Children and stress are two things we don’t usually put together; at least not typically. More parents are gaining awareness about the prevalence of stress among young people, though. This awareness is allowing parents, caregivers, and even teachers and healthcare providers to better protect kids of all ages from the damaging effects of unmanaged stress.

Just like adults, children are affected by what goes on around them. When stressors go unchecked, internal tension accumulates. Like adults, who may experience chronic fatigue, headaches, and other symptoms of stress, children also tend to show signs that they are carrying too much emotional burden. The reaction that occurs to stress in a child or teen could lead to other concerns, including concerns about oral health.

Stress and Oral Health

Children may react to pressure in different ways than adults (and sometimes in the very same ways):

  • A typical stress response is to consume “comfort foods.” Usually, these are starchy or sugary foods and beverages that increase the risk of cavities and other dental problems.
  • When stress continues, the body’s chemistry changes. One of the functions affected by chemical changes is saliva production. Without the right composition, saliva cannot dilute acid and sugar well, putting the teeth and gums at risk.
  • Children (and adults) who are under excessive amounts of stress may absentmindedly chew or bite on hard objects. They may also begin to clench their jaw or grind their teeth. These habits could cause chips and fractures.

Looking for Signs

Children themselves are relatively limited when it comes to communicating their feelings and tension with words. As parents and caregivers, it is up to us to look for clues in behaviors. This is just as relevant to those who have teens in their life as it is to parents of young children. Stress in children may manifest in a variety of ways, from behavioral difficulties and emotional outbursts to frequent complaints of stomachaches, head pain, or other physical ailments.

How to Protect Children from the Effects of Stress

We cannot create a wall around the children we love that will keep them from all stressors. We wouldn’t be doing them any favors if we could. Stress can help us grow and develop the ability to cope with the fact that life can sometimes be hard. While children need to learn these lessons, they can do so under a protective umbrella that allows them to share their feelings in a healthy way, such as talking or writing in a journal. Children can be offered healthy food choices and encouragement to avoid turning to food as a way to cope with stress. Finally, oral health can be preserved when children are brought to a dental office that offers friendly, compassionate care.

We enjoy serving families in the Methuen and Windham areas. Call an office near you to schedule your visit.