We all know that COVID-19 can wreak havoc on our health. In fact, new numbers of infections have reached an all-time high. But what we didn’t know was how the stress of the pandemic can impact our health in other ways, namely, our dental health.
Many people only think about their dental health in the context of getting braces. Around four million people are already wearing braces, both young and old. But you might not have known that 20% of those people are actually adults. It’s no surprise that caring for our dental health is a life-long commitment, especially if you want to maintain a healthy, attractive smile.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 fears and concerns might be impacting our dental health in worse ways than we imagined. According to recent studies, more people in Colorado have been grinding their teeth, clenching their jaw, and chipping their teeth as a result.
These reports come from dentists, among whom half have seen an increase in stress-related dental conditions. The study was performed by the American Dental Association (ADA) Health Policy Institute where some dentists have noted that stress-related conditions have more than doubled at their practice. Of course, we’ve only heard about it now because the detrimental results of months of teeth grinding have finally come to a head.
Along with damages to the teeth, common results of teeth grinding and jaw clenching include facial pain, headaches, and even shoulder pain in some people. Where concrete structures, like buildings and sidewalks, can last 100 years, our teeth don’t have the strength we think they do. They’re susceptible to cracks, chips, and countless other malaties from sheer pressure alone.
“It’s definitely been a stressful couple of months for sure, just trying to be able to make the right decision for the students and the families and the teachers,” explains Kate Gojkovich, a 33-year-old Denver private school Chief of Staff and Chief Development Officer. She is among one of the many people suffering from stress-related dental health issues. “I had pain you know in my temples, I had pain right in my jawline.”
The stress for some people has even caused them to split their teeth in half. In some cases, people are clenching their teeth throughout the day. But for many, the impact of our stress occurs when we sleep making it difficult to diagnose and treat the issue.
As a result, a growing number of Colorado dentists have taken to assigning nightguards to prevent people from chipping and fracturing their teeth. But the study from the ADA notes that this is an issue across the entirety of the country, not just Colorado.
As we transition into the next phase of living with COVID-19, part of your self-care routine might include taking better care of your oral health. Finding ways to relax and protect your teeth — like wearing a mouthguard — can help maintain your health in the long-run. Talk to your dentist if you’ve been experiencing teeth, jaw, or facial pain throughout the pandemic.