COVID-19 has had medical experts baffled with its wide array of symptoms and side effects, including skin rashes, loss of taste and smell, and brain fog. And now, dentists are reporting a spike in cracked and damaged teeth due to the stress of the disease that has patients grinding their teeth and clenching their jaws.
According to Ladders, New York City dentist Tammy Chen reopened her practice in June and saw people with tooth fractures coming in every day. "I've seen more tooth fractures in the last six weeks than in the previous six years," she wrote in an opinion piece for The New York Times.
She says that the obvious reason for this spike in cracked teeth is stress.
"It's no secret that pandemic-related anxiety is affecting our collective mental health," Chen writes. "That stress, in turn, leads to clenching and grinding, which can damage the teeth."
Chen says that one of the major causes of tooth problems is lack of sleep, according to Ladders. Statistics show that a shocking number of Americans — almost two-thirds — say they their sleep routine has been ruined forever because of COVID-19.
She suggests wearing a night guard or retainer that keep the teeth in proper alignment and prevent grinding. They can also absorb and disperse pressure so that you're not applying so much force on the teeth. If you become aware that you're damaging your teeth during anxiety-ridden sleep, ask your dentist to fit you one of these items.
"I tell my patients I'd much rather you crack a night guard than crack a tooth," she says, according to the Times. Other tips to help de-stress and prevent grinding your teeth at night include taking a long, hot bath with Epsom salts before bedtime, getting up from your desk every hour and walking around the house or apartment and at the end of the day, and relaxing your body by "wiggling like a fish."
"Lie down on the floor on your back, with arms extended straight above your head, and gently wiggle your arms, shoulder, hips and feet from sided to side," Chen advises. This helps release some of the pressure and tension in the spine.
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