Wellness + Nutrition

On topic with Dr. Dill: manage your stress to protect your health

Everyone gets stressed at times. Maybe you’re going through some life changes, are worried about a situation or just can’t seem to get through everything on your to-do list. These overwhelming feelings can not only be tough on your mental health — they can also take a toll on your body.

That’s because when you feel stressed, your body produces increased levels of a hormone called cortisol. High levels of cortisol make you more prone to oral health problems such as gum disease, canker sores, cold sores and teeth grinding.

But the effects don’t end there. Stress can also drain your energy and make it more difficult to sleep. You may experience headaches, weight gain and trouble concentrating or remembering things. Research has also linked high levels of stress with infections, high blood pressure, diabetes and osteoporosis.

In your day-to-day life, stress can cause you to get off track with self-care. It can even lead to habits harmful to your health such as tobacco use or excessive alcohol consumption. To keep yourself well, maintain these five healthy habits:




1. Exercise for 30 minutes each day. Even just a walk around the neighborhood will do. Getting outside and soaking up some sunshine can improve your mood.





2. Go to bed at a consistent time and make time to unwind. Try yoga or meditation before bed or listen to some music to help you relax.





3. Stock your pantry and fridge with healthy foods. Choose fresh fruits and veggies, fish and other lean proteins, milk, cheese and beans.





4. Stay hydrated with plenty of water. Decaffeinated black or green tea can also provide health and relaxation benefits. Just skip the lemon and honey, as acids and sweets can contribute to tooth decay.




5. Make self-care a priority. Remember to keep up with your hygiene habits, including brushing and flossing. And make time for things you enjoy — whether that’s reading, working on a fun project or watching your favorite show.



Be good to yourself by finding ways to take care of your mind and body each day. Just the act of smiling can help! By taking steps to manage your stress, you’ll protect your oral and overall health. That’ll give you plenty of reasons to smile in the future.

Meet Delta Dental’s Vice President of Dental Science and Network Strategy, Joseph Dill, DDS. With more than 30 years of experience in the dental field, including eight in private practice and 16 in dental insurance, Dr. Dill provides expert insights and helpful advice to keep you smiling bright.