Since reopening the practices in May of this year, Dentists across the country are seeing an increase in the number of patients with tooth sensitivity, jaw pain, cracked teeth, cracked fillings and crowns. This continues to be a consistent trend.
What is exactly happening here?
I have observed that most of the patients who came in with above symptoms are grinding their teeth much more than ever before. The technical term for abnormal teeth grinding and jaw clinching is Bruxism. Interestingly bruxism has become a bigger problem than usual during the COVID-19 pandemic.
There is clear evidence that Corona-virus Pandemic has affected our collective mental health negatively. Terms such as COVID-19 induced nightmares, doomsurfing, coronaphobia have been discussed a lot recently. Lifestyle changes due to work from home and changes due to home schooling, have also added to the stress and anxiety. It is well-known that stress, fear and other emotions can activate the part of our brain called amygdala, which regulates flight or fight response in our body. One of the reactions from the flight or fight response is muscle contractions that could include jaw-clenching. Jaw clenching and grinding in turn causes damage to the teeth, due to excessive force.
What can you do to prevent or reduce the damage caused by Jaw Clenching and Teeth Grinding?
Daytime bruxism can be managed with relaxation, breathing exercises, etc. I have noticed that there is a lack of awareness in masses about the correct Jaw posture that should be maintained during the day. For maintaining correct jaw posture your top and bottom teeth should not touch throughout the day unless chewing your food. Instead, there should be a slight space between the upper and lower jaw, the lower jaw should be relaxed, with your lips gently touching and your tongue sitting passively on the floor of your mouth.
There are a few other exercises and techniques that can be used to correct the jaw posture, depending on you condition. Remember to ask your dentist during your next dental visit.
For bruxism that persists through the night, your dentist would generally recommend a mouth guard or a nightguard. A well-fitting mouthguard can distribute the force of clenching thereby reducing the possibility of jaw pain and protect your teeth from the damage caused by grinding.
Fremont Dentist, Dr. Jaspreet Harika is an experienced and gentle dentist serving Newark CA, Fremont, Union City, Hayward, Milpitas area. To book an appointment call at 510.284.2511. Or Book Online Now!