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Don't Let Financial Stress Eat at You

Aug 17, 2007
Being able to afford a home, living in a place that is too small for your family, keeping up with monthly payments, having an unexpected expense, running out of money for food, clothing, medical care, or activities: these worries affect your wallet and your health.
Financial stress eats at many people, and how they cope with it has a direct impact on their teeth and gums, according to a study published in the Journal of Periodontology.

Adding stress, subtracting dental care

Unfortunately, financial stress creates constant, relentless pressure over a long period of time. People who have poor coping skills are more likely to have problems such as:

Neglecting their regular brushing and flossing habits
Avoiding going to the dentist
Grinding their teeth
These problems lead to an increased risk for periodontal (gum) disease. And in turn, periodontal disease has a strong association with a weakened immune system, as well as an increased risk for diabetes, osteoporosis, heart disease, or respiratory disease.

Subtracting stress, adding dental care

Although financial challenges may be difficult to solve quickly, you can take immediate steps to cope with the pressure. Here are tips for subtracting stress and adding dental care to your health "budget."

Pay attention to your body:

Enjoy a healthy diet and drink plenty of water. Get enough rest and exercise. Soothe tight muscles with a massage or a hot bath.

Take time for daily dental care:

Play your favorite music while brushing your teeth. Focus on every tooth as you floss. When using a mouthrinse, feel the sensations of taste and smell. Notice whether you are grinding your teeth. Make (and keep!) your regular dental appointments.

Make relaxation a priority:

If you notice that you are clenching your jaw or any muscles in your body, stretch and relax. Remind yourself to breathe deeply. Spend time with your friends and family members. Enjoy your favorite hobbies. Explore relaxation techniques, such as meditation, yoga, or tai chi, and include spiritual practices in your week as applicable.

Develop positive coping skills:
When a situation becomes stressful, try to think about it in a more positive way. Find ways to deal with it or step away from it. Talk it over with someone you trust.

When financial stress starts to eat at you, don't use avoidance techniques (smoking, overeating, using drugs or alcohol) or emotional coping methods (anger, crying, blaming others, etc.). Instead, use proactive, positive, problem-solving approaches to deal with your challenges.

Making dental care affordable

If it seems like dental care is an additional stress on your tightly-stretched budget, remember that the benefits outweigh the costs. For example:

By spending a few dollars now on toothpaste, toothbrushes, and dental floss (and using them!), you can save hundreds of dollars that would otherwise be needed for professional dental restorations.
By quitting smoking now, you can immediately regain money that would be wasted on tobacco products (and save hundreds of dollars that would be needed to take care of health complications).

By having an established relationship with our office now, you have set in motion a regular routine of preventive care. Down the road, if a dental emergency arises, you can come to us, rather than having to resort to expensive, last-minute services by someone who doesn't know your dental history or have your records on file.

By investing in regular dental checkups now, you can help to avoid costly procedures later. (For every $1 you spend on preventive care, you can save anywhere between $8 to $50 in more expensive restorations or emergency treatments.)

By using flexible spending accounts (FSAs) for health care and dental insurance plans, you can take advantage of tax-free savings now.

We may not be able to take away your financial stress. But we will do everything we can to make your visit to our office a positive, relaxing, and valuable investment in your health and well-being.
About the Author
For more information, contact Dr. Nguyen at drnguyen@softdental.com or visit www.softdental.com.
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