Unfortunately for many, teeth grinding due to pandemic stress is on the rise. As stress levels increase due to the unfolding COVID-19 pandemic, so does teeth grinding, or teeth clenching. Teeth grinding is a common dental phenomenon, often associated with stress and anxiety.
Called bruxism by dentists and medical professionals, teeth grinding can cause significant damage to a person's teeth, including cracked, broken, or chipped teeth. Teeth grinding or clenching can also cause major jaw problems, headaches, and toothaches, among other issues. Fortunately, most dentists, offer a helpful solution to patients dealing with bruxism related to the novel coronavirus.
Teeth Grinding Due To Pandemic Stress On The Rise
With many Americans having lost their jobs, portions of their income, or dealing with an entire family under home isolation, many are also reporting major increases in day-to-day stress. The stress of the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world significantly, and, in no small way, it has also changed the dental landscape of the average person.
The American Dental Association (ADA) and The Washington Post have both reported that many dentists are seeing a rise in teeth grinding cases due to stress from COVID-19. This is resulting in a major uptick in fractured, broken, and cracked teeth, as well as pressure-related toothaches and headaches. In fact, the ADA polled dentists, and they have reported increases in the following dental problems during the pandemic:
- bruxism (50.4%)
- cracked or chipped teeth (53.4%)
- temporomandibular (TMJ) disorder (53.4%)
- periodontal disease (29.7%)
- dental caries (26.4%)
The above data suggests that people are taking less care of their own teeth in general, but the numbers for non-behavior-associated dental issues such as bruxism, cracked teeth, TMJ, and the like are astoundingly high and are a major cause for concern.
Why Do People Grind Their Teeth?
So why do people grind their teeth in the first place? While there are a number of different reasons why people grind their teeth, stress or anxiety is, by far, the number one reason. This explains the newly-found increase in bruxism coinciding with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Teeth clenching is most common at night, though some also experience the phenomenon during the day. It's said that about 20% of adults clench their teeth during the day. Alternatively, up to 60% of adults have some level of jaw movement during sleep. While this doesn't only include teeth clenching, stress also doesn't bode well for those with nocturnal jaw activity.
Other common causes of bruxism include misaligned teeth, sleep disorders, and over-consumption of tobacco, alcohol, or caffeine. While the latter few are primarily behavior-oriented and can simply be fixed by moderating your intake, the former often requires professional help.
Teeth Grinding Treatment
For dentists, the best way to treat bruxism is typically through the use of dental mouthguards. Patients can wear a customized dental mouthguard at night, which prevents the jaw from clenching on itself. The result is a huge decrease in toothaches, jaw aches, or bruxism-associated tooth problems like cracks and breaks.
Custom Fit Dental Mouthguards For Bruxism
To create dental mouthguards, sometimes called dental splints, dentists will take an X-ray of a person's mouth to create fitted molds of a person's smile. This ensures that the mouthguard is the perfect fit, and will prevent you from clenching your teeth at night.
Over-The-Counter Dental Splints and Mouthguards
While over-the-counter mouthguard options are available, they're often not a great solution for those who grind their teeth. Since they aren't molded to a person's mouth, they aren't typically a great fit. Over-the-counter mouthguards often cause people to fidget with them, even furthering teeth clenching issues for some. The best solution is simply to reach out to your dentist who can offer a custom-fit mouthguard for your teeth.
Unfortunately, there isn't anything that can outright cure bruxism, so dental mouthguards are the next best thing. They're still a great alternative to years of headaches, costly dental treatments due to broken teeth, and other, less-than-ideal circumstances. Additionally, they're easier to replace than your teeth, when it comes to severe cases.
Manage Your Bite With Dental Mouthguards
Many patients report fewer headaches and toothaches after switching to a dental splint or mouthguard. Here at Peach Valley Dental, we also have safety measures in place to ensure that we are protecting our patients, our team, and our community. We are committed to following the recommendations of the CDC and the American Dental Association. Click here to see our new check-in process.
As you and your family continue to navigate the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, be sure to keep your mouth healthy too. If you're experiencing an increase in teeth grinding due to pandemic stress, you may benefit from a dental mouthguard. Feel free to call us today at 404-254-5196 or schedule an appointment online.