The last year has been rough to say the least. You’re working from home or perhaps out of work, and you’re in charge of corralling your kids for remote learning. You’re worried about your loved ones’ safety, and yet you’re bursting to get out of the house and see people again. Even if you haven’t been directly infected with COVID-19, you’ve definitely been affected by the pandemic with stress.
Unfortunately, this unavoidable stress can cause a host of problems, not just with your emotional well-being but also to your oral health. Did you know that since the beginning of the pandemic, there has been a significant rise in dental emergencies? It’s much more than just a coincidence. In this post, you’ll learn how stress from COVID can impact your smile and how regular visits with your dentist is the most important step to stopping stress-related dental emergencies.
How Stress Affects Your Teeth
In addition to increasing your blood pressure and other physiological responses, stress increases the tendency to clench or grind your teeth while you sleep. Although your teeth are designed to be strong enough to manage chewing and biting, they can wear down under immense force. If clenching or grinding becomes a habit, called bruxism, it can lead to chipped or cracked teeth and broken fillings or crowns. This damage exposes the more vulnerable interior of your teeth to bacteria and decay.
Other than direct damage to your teeth, bruxism can also give you problems with your temporomandibular joint (TMJ), or the joint that connects the lower jaw with your head. Clenching and grinding puts excess strain on this joint, potentially making opening and closing the joint painful or uncomfortable.
Importance of Routine Dental Visits
You know you should visit the dentist at least every six months for a cleaning, but this appointment provides much more. It’s also an opportunity for your dentist to examine your mouth and identify potential problems before they cause serious harm. For example, your dentist can spot areas where the enamel is wearing down more quickly than others, a common sign of bruxism. They can also catch cracks while they are small and easier to fix with composite resin, instead of waiting until the tooth becomes fractured and requires emergency dentistry.
Ways to Relieve Stress
Maybe you’ve read articles or blog posts about meditation and calming breathing. These are helpful methods of lowering stress, but how do you stop a habit that you do while you’re unconscious? In many cases, bruxism can be treated by your dentist with a simple oral appliance that keeps your upper and lower teeth from touching, protecting them from harming each other. This appliance also relaxes your jaw muscles, easing TMJ discomfort.
By seeing your dentist on a regular basis, you can stop the painful and damaging effects of COVID stress. You can make sure your smile can stand up to whatever comes your way, whether it’s a global pandemic or just the basic everyday stresses.
About the Practice
At Clear Coast Dental, we are proud to have three talented, compassionate dentists on staff. Each has a unique professional background in dentistry, but they all are dedicated to helping patients keep smiling with confidence. We believe the best way to approach dental care is with prevention and early detection first. However, we have skills to treat dental emergencies as they come up without judgement. Are you overdue for a dental checkup? You can contact Clear Coast Dental through our website or by calling 508-997-1030.