Why is the Pandemic Affecting Oral Health?
During the first few weeks of the pandemic, most dental offices shut down for emergency dentistry services only. With non-essential treatments suspended, patients with existing conditions were left to wait for their treatments unless it was deemed an emergency. There were also patients who had to cancel their regular dental cleanings who may have had a dental problem but didn’t know about it. These patients were unaware of their dental problems until they woke up in pain one morning.
Without early treatment or early diagnosis, more damage occurred to the patient’s teeth than necessary. What was once a small stress fracture might have turned into a fully cracked tooth. A slightly cracked filling is now a major toothache and what was once an occasional clenching and grinding habit might happen every night now. Without regular visits to the dentist, patients don’t know what kinds of potential problems might be happening inside their mouths.
The Rise of Bruxism
It’s not just the lack of regular dental visits affecting patient’s oral health, but also the stress of the pandemic. Stress is one of the top causes of bruxism (clenching and grinding during sleep). Bruxism can lead to worn, cracked, and broken teeth and even temporomandibular joint disorders. Unfortunately, not every patient recognizes that they’re clenching or grinding their teeth at night so they don’t do anything about it. Some patients might experience jaw pain or headaches, but even then, they might not know to wear a nightguard. Bruxism can also occur during the daytime, often without people realizing it.
It’s important to recognize some of the signs of bruxism so you can seek treatment as soon as possible. Common symptoms include:
- Jaw pain
- Sensitivity to temperature
- Cracked or damaged fillings and teeth
- Receding gums
- Worn teeth
- Jaw stiffness
- Facial pain
Although jaw movements are normal during sleep. Once the teeth press against each other for longer than 10 minutes, that’s when problems start happening. With the end to the pandemic far on the horizon, stress levels are expected to remain high. Most people are feeling uncertain, overwhelmed, powerless, and doubt which all contribute to their stress level and clenching and grinding.
How to Control Your Oral Health During COIVD-19
Acknowledging the importance of your oral health is a great place to start with your journey to a healthier mouth. First of all, continue to brush and floss your teeth at home. If you’re behind on your regular cleanings or continuing treatment, make sure to reschedule your appointments as soon as possible.
When you visit Center for Advanced Dentistry in Nashville, TN, Dr. White will examine your mouth to find any potential damage that has occurred since your last appointment. If he notices that you’ve been grinding and clenching your teeth, he will prescribe you a custom night guard. If your clenching and grinding habits have damaged your teeth or fillings in any way, he will also recommend the necessary treatments to restore your teeth. These might include new dental fillings, dental crowns, inlays, onlays, or even a root canal if the crack is bad enough.
In addition to fixing the damage, you should receive two professional dental cleanings per year. During these appointments, our team will remove plaque and tartar that can result in tooth decay and gum disease. Your toothbrush can’t always remove everything which is why it’s essential to visit us every six months to remove the plaque and tartar before it causes damage.
Schedule Your Next Dental Appointment
If your oral health is suffering during the pandemic, please contact our dental office for an appointment. We can assure you it’s completely safe to visit us. We’re taking the recommended precautions to keep both our staff and patients safe so that you can achieve the healthy smile you deserve. When your smile is healthy, it only benefits your overall health. Schedule an appointment at our Nashville, TN dental office today by calling (615) 383-6787.
In the meantime, we recommend finding healthy ways to express your stress so that it doesn’t turn into a harmful nighttime habit. Try taking a walk, practicing yoga, or journaling about your stress. Taking small actions like these can alleviate your stress and hopefully prevent you from cracking your teeth.