Did you know that a pandemic can affect your teeth?
That’s right–as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting anxiety, dentists and oral surgeons are seeing an increase in teeth grinding, also known as bruxism.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, public health actions, such as social distancing, can make people feel isolated and lonely and can increase stress and anxiety. Patients worried over health risks, job loss, and finances are increasingly clench their jaws and grinding or even breaking their teeth. Chronic teeth grinding can wear down tooth enamel, cause fractures and even tooth loss. It can also cause headaches and neck and jaw pain. Sometimes, a patient isn’t even aware that this is happening, as teeth grinding often occurs unconsciously when awake or sleeping. When you add a reluctance in some patients to visit a dentist or oral surgeon during the pandemic, it can be a recipe for adverse neck, jaw, and dental consequences.
Avoiding Stress-Related Bruxism
It can be difficult to relax when surrounded by so many pandemic-induced warnings and messages each day, but stepping away from your devices and turning off media periodically can help. Stretching, breathing exercises, and changing your posture have been found to relieve stress. If the problem is persistent, you may want to consider talking with a licensed therapist or counselor who can help with anxiety management. Sometimes bruxism is related to a sleep disorder, and your doctor may refer you to a sleep specialist.
Your dentist or oral surgeon can perform an exam to help you determine the cause and best treatment for bruxism. They may check for broken or missing teeth or abnormalities that lead to teeth grinding. Sometimes splints or mouth guards are recommended to keep teeth separated and avoid damage. If the problem is more severe, the oral surgeon may reshape the teeth or use a crown to repair the damage.
Do you have a questions about Oral and Facial Surgery, our practice, or services. We have offices in Maryland and West Virginia and serve patients throughout the Tri-state area, including Hagerstown, Chambersburg, and Martinsburg. You may contact us here.
The information provided on this website should not be used to diagnose or treat any medical condition and is not meant to take the place of professional medical advice. If you think you have a medical problem, please seek the advice of a physician. Call 911 for all medical emergencies.