How COVID-19 Led to an Increase in Dental Emergencies
Even for people who have not gotten sick or lost a loved one to COVID-19, the pandemic has affected us all in different ways. Since mid-March, when schools closed, businesses reduced traffic, and health care facilities went to telehealth and emergency-only appointments, we, as a society, are just starting to find some semblance of normalcy. As people get back to scheduling checkups and teeth cleanings, dentists are seeing a surprising trend – cracked teeth. Our Fuquay Varina dentist is sharing why cracked and broken teeth have increased and what you can do if you’re experiencing these issues.
Surprising Increases in Cracked and Broken Teeth
While there hasn’t been a nationwide study, dentists in New York and Washington, the states that were hit hard early by COVID-19, are the first to notice the increase in broken teeth. Dr. Avina Paranjpe, a professor of endodontics at the University of Washington School of Dentistry reports, “Considering the number of cases we have seen at the university and in practice, I would say about a 30 percent to 35 percent increase in cases.”
When dentists were asked why they were seeing this increase, they attributed it to rising stress and anxiety. This is no surprise; countless studies over the past few months have showed that people are feeling the stress of the coronavirus pandemic. Whether it’s financial worries caused by being out of a job, trying to juggle virtual school and remote work, or simply fear for yourself or a loved one in a high risk, most people are under a tremendous amount of stress and anxiety. Just like an upset stomach and muscle tension, stress can lead to teeth grinding and clenching, called bruxism. Extended periods of stress-induced teeth grinding can lead to broken or cracked teeth.
A Surprising Secondary Reason for Cracked Teeth
In addition to stress, New York dentist, Dr. Todd Bertman, says that remote working is playing a role in why people are suffering from bruxism. Unlike working at a desk in an office which may be ergonomically designed to promote better posture, sitting in a dining chair at the kitchen table or even sitting on the couch can be problematic for your posture. Poor posture can lead to muscle clenching and tension in the shoulders, back, neck, and jaw, which causes the teeth to grind. Weeks or months of this can weaken teeth and lead to cracking and breaking.
On top of this, many dentists’ offices were closed or only seeing emergency dental cases, so regular checkups that would have caught signs of teeth grinding were missed. Once the offices opened back up, many people have been reluctant to visit the dentist during the pandemic, concerned with exposure.
What to Do If You Have a Cracked Tooth from Teeth Grinding
If you have been grinding your teeth for the past several months (or longer) and you’ve noticed wear or have even experienced a cracked tooth, it’s important to make an appointment with your dentist immediately. Your dentist will be able to fix any damage with a crown or filling, and can also fit you for a night guard as most people are more likely to grind or clench their teeth at night. It’s important to be fitted properly for a night guard as purchasing one from Amazon and having the wrong fit can worsen the problem, leading to pain and even tooth loss.
Dealing with Stress
In addition to seeking help from your dentist, it’s important to focus on your mental health and well being to minimize stress.
- Meditation and deep breathing exercises;
- Daily exercise, like taking a walk around the block;
- Zoom video calls with friends and loved ones;
- Reducing news and social media exposure;
If stress and anxiety continue, ,you may want to talk to your general practitioner who can refer you for counseling or recommend medication.
Schedule an Appointment with Our Fuquay Varina Dentists
Whether you’re dealing with bruxism, have a cracked tooth, or are simply past due for your regular cleaning, schedule an appointment today. Our family dentist in Fuquay-Varina is here to provide you with the right treatment for your health in a comfortable, welcoming environment. To learn more, call us at 919-552-2431 or schedule an appointment today.