If you’ve noticed an increase in painful dental symptoms like teeth grinding, jaw clenching, and jaw pain during the global pandemic, you’re not alone.
According to a survey by the American Dental Association (ADA), teeth grinding has been on the rise. 70% of dentists say they’ve seen an increase in the number of patients with teeth grinding and clenching.
As people try to cope with the pressures of the pandemic, health concerns, financial strain, political unrest, and more can lead to a rise in stress and anxiety. This surge in stress levels has been linked to an increase in both daytime and nighttime teeth grinding, which can lead to painful symptoms and serious consequences for your oral health.
Let’s explore the rise of teeth grinding, how to relieve its painful symptoms, and how dentists can help treat the root of the issue.
What is Teeth Grinding (Bruxism)?
Teeth grinding, known by its clinical term “bruxism,” occurs when someone clenches or grinds their teeth. While it can occur during the day, it can cause more problems during sleep, as the person affected may not realize they’re doing it.
Symptoms to look out for include:
- Tooth wear
- Waking up with a sore jaw or stiff neck
- Frequent headaches
- Jaw pain or facial pain
- Disrupted sleep
- Receding gums
An Increase in Teeth Grinding During COVID-19
The past year has taken a toll on many people, both emotionally and physically. From health concerns to financial struggles, anxiety and stress are at an all-time high. While most causes of teeth grinding are unknown, experts agree that the behavior is linked to the central nervous system. Risk factors like anxiety, lack of sleep, stressful circumstances, and heavy alcohol use — all of which have increased across the population — may play a role in teeth grinding.
More dentists are reporting that, due to increased stress, patients are coming in with cracked or chipped teeth, as well as worn-down enamel and jaw pain.
Even as the worst of the pandemic begins to ease, the numbers are still increasing. The ADA’s survey found that 70% of dentists reported seeing an increase in bruxism in 2021 — an increase from the 60% who reported it in the fall of 2020.
What You Can Do From Home
While there’s no way to eliminate stress, there are some steps you can take to protect your teeth.
It’s essential to keep up with self-care rituals, particularly during periods of high stress. These rituals can include maintaining a solid sleep schedule, regular exercise, taking time for hobbies, practicing mindfulness, and meditating.
For daytime teeth grinders, you might find it hard to catch yourself in the act. You can try using reminders on your smartphone app or other visual cues like stickers to remind yourself to unclench your jaw.
However, there’s only so much you can do from home. Keeping up with regular dental checkups is the best way to protect yourself from teeth grinding related to COVID-19. If your dentist notices signs of bruxism, they can provide treatment options, like a customized night guard to protect your teeth.
Treatment for Teeth Grinding: When to See a Dentist
If you notice any symptoms that indicate you’ve been grinding your teeth, whether due to COVID-19 stress or not, it’s essential to see a dentist as soon as possible. A dental professional can evaluate your symptoms and conduct a complete exam to determine the root of the issue.
The sooner you catch the issue and get treatment, the less likely it is that you’ll need more complex dental treatments later down the line.Do you need to speak with a trusted professional about teeth grinding concerns? The best place to start your search for a reliable dentist is through denTEL’s online platform. We can help match you with the dentists best qualified to care for your dental needs.