Dentists say COVID-19 pandemic causes increased teeth grinding – National

Stress and anxiety related to what’s going on COVID-19 Dentists say the number of patients with cracked, broken and damaged teeth has increased over the past 20 months.

Bruce Ward, a dentist in the Vancouver area, said he’s noticed the pressures of the pandemic are causing many people to unknowingly clench their jaws and grind their teeth with extreme force while sleeping.

“It’s like two pieces of ivory rubbing together,” says Ward, describing the grinding sound that is usually first noticed by others.

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Signs of teeth grinding are morning jaw pain, headache, and toothache, but sometimes it’s much worse.

“I had two (recently) extracted teeth that were split in the middle and right across the bottom of the tooth and out to the other side,” says Ward of the patient’s teeth that were weakened by grinding. .

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Ward, a former president of the British Columbia Dental Association, said he has attended Zoom meetings with colleagues who say they have recently seen more teeth damage from teeth grinding, a condition known as bruxism.

“In particular, over the last year and a half, it has been a huge increase in our overall business,” he said.

Teeth grinding and jaw clenching are often linked to stress, and people’s stress levels have increased during the pandemic, Ward said.

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Teeth are designed to withstand chewing pressure, but involuntary grinding increases function dramatically, to the point that teeth can crack, chip or become loose, he says.

“It’s very bad for your joints and it’s also really stressful on your muscles,” says Ward. “It also puts stress on your teeth. It’s huge, the force is on your teeth. “

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Dentists often recommend that patients start using a special mouthpiece at night to protect their teeth and take steps to reduce stress in their lives.

“Many people say to me, ` `How can I stop it? ” said Ward. “And I went, ‘Move to Fiji, sell all you have and lay on the beach all day.'”

Nirmala Raniga, a mental health and addiction consultant in Vancouver, says the pandemic has added to everyone’s stress and it can manifest in many different forms and places, including the mouth. of everyone.

“Stress causes problems in your mouth, where you can grind at night and cause headaches and migraines,” she says. “It causes your tooth fracture and filling.”

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Raniga says grinding and clenching at night and talking while sleeping are signs that the body is trying to deal with emotional issues.

“It’s a stress reliever,” she says. “Your body is releasing stress by grinding, so the idea is how do you relieve stress by working through these traumatic memories.”

The Canadian Dental Association says evidence of an increase in teeth grinding problems during the pandemic is anecdotal, but that delaying oral health care can lead to health problems.

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“The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the lives of many people and has the potential to disrupt everyone’s good habits and daily routine,” said Dr. Aaron Burry, Executive Vice President of Professional Affairs of the association said in a statement.

“Snacking more often, consuming more sugary foods and drinks, not getting regular dental visits and not regularly brushing and flossing can all have consequences,” he said.

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The Dental Association cited a March 2021 report by the American Dental Association Health Policy Institute, where more than 70% of dentists surveyed said they noticed an increase in patients who grind their teeth. and teeth grinding, stress-related conditions.

The nonprofit association represents 163,000 dentist members and is the largest dental association in the United States.

McGill University published research last April concluding that good oral health reduces the risk of dying from COVID-19.

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Researchers report that COVID-19 patients with gum disease are 3.5 times more likely to be hospitalized in the intensive care unit, 4.5 times more likely to need a ventilator, and nearly 9 times more likely to need a ventilator. mortality compared with those without gum disease.

The Canadian Dental Association website suggests consulting with your dentist about bruxism and relaxation techniques to use during the day and at bedtime.

“Practice stress-reducing activities, such as staying physically active, yoga and meditation, deep breathing exercises, massage therapy, listening to music and or bathing,” the website says.

A nutritious diet and limited caffeine and alcohol are also seen as ways to reduce stress and ease bruxism, the association says.

© 2021 Canadian Press Dentists say COVID-19 pandemic causes increased teeth grinding – National

Emma Bowman

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