Stressed Out Students: 6 Tips to Maintain a Stress-Free Smile During Exams

Dr Paul O Dwyer

Dr Paul O' Dwyer

May 29, 2019

Student smiling exam stress

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With exam season upon us, did you know that too much stress can have serious consequences for your oral health? Here are 6 tips to maintain a stress-free smile:

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According to Dr Paul O’Dwyer, group clinical adviser at Dental Care Ireland: “Teeth grinding, mouth sores, dry mouth and gum disease are just some of the ways that stress can wreak havoc on your teeth and gums. Throughout the busy exam period, it is vital to ensure a balanced diet, drink plenty of water and maintain a basic oral health routine.” Here are 6 tips to help maintain a stress-free smile during exam times.

#1. Book A Check Up With Your Dentist

Stress free smile visit to dentist

Prevention is better than cure, and regular dental check-ups are the best way to avoid unnecessary pain and reduce disruption to important study time.

Regular attendance allows your dentist to detect conditions such as tooth decay, teeth grinding and gum disease at an early stage. Your dentist can also check for signs of wisdom teeth, which typically appear between 18 – 24 years, and can cause some discomfort. Inflammation and infection around wisdom teeth, known as pericoronitis, can be painful and distracting during exam season.

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#2. Stick To Your Routine

Stress can impair the immune system’s response, resulting in inflammation of the gums, as well as unexpected mouth sores such as ulcers or cold sores.

Throughout the exam preparations, it is important for students to continue with a basic dental routine at home. Ideally, brush twice per day for two minutes with fluoride toothpaste, floss daily, and drink plenty of water.

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#3. Maintain A Well Balanced Diet

fruit and veg

It can be difficult to maintain a well balanced diet during exam times. But, a balanced and varied diet is essential for maintaining a healthy mind and mouth.

Fresh fruit, vegetables and milk are rich in vitamins C and D, which are necessary for keeping minds and gums healthy.

Try to avoid drinking fruit drinks and smoothies too frequently. These can appear to be healthy drinks but many tend to be high in sugar and therefore impact on dental decay. They also increase your blood sugars for a short period of time resulting in low energy levels as they leave your system. Instead, opt for water or milk if possible.

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#4. Be Aware Of Teeth Grinding

Increased anxiety and stress can lead to teeth grinding or clenching, also known as bruxism.

Common symptoms of bruxism include worn, damaged or sensitive teeth, soreness around the jaw in the morning, and making a grinding sound while asleep.

Your dentist can examine the mouth and jaw for signs of bruxism, help to work out possible causes, and suggest appropriate treatments, such as a mouth guard.

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#5. Drink Plenty of Water

tips to protect your teeth drinking water

Stressful situations such as exams and presentations can result in a dry mouth, causing a lack of saliva, which increases the risk of tooth decay.

Drinking plenty of water helps to promote the healthy production of saliva, which washes away leftover food particles. To prevent dry mouth, sip tap water frequently.

#6. Chew With Caution

In the midst of exam stress, students can be inclined to develop habits such as nail biting or chewing on a pen. Aside from the risk of plastic splinters in the mouth, this type of habit can also result in chipped teeth or damaged fillings.

Wishing all students the best in their upcoming exams and a stress free smile with healthy mouth and gums.

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Published On: May 29th, 2019 / Categories: School / Last Updated: April 5th, 2021 / Tags: , /

About the Author: Dr Paul O' Dwyer

Dr Paul O Dwyer
Dr Paul O’Dwyer BDS, MSc is group clinical advisor at Dental Care Ireland, an Irish-owned network of established dental practices nationwide.With 20 years’ experience in clinical dentistry and healthcare management, Dr O’Dwyer is a regular media commentator on oral health issues. A native of Cahir, Co. Tipperary, he was recently appointed as a Member of Adjunct Faculty at the Institute of Leadership in the Royal College of Surgeons, where he is a guest lecturer.

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